Lucy in the Sky (you’ll get to hear at least a snippet of the song) stars Natalie Portman (in a bowl-coiffed wig) who has excelled in recent years in larger and smaller celluloid projects like Annihilation. Vox Lux, and Jackie but under the direction of noted television show-runner Noah Hawley his ambitions to cast a darkly mesmerizing spell get the better of him.
Subtlety and character are important to Hawley and his staff, but not very judicious when melodrama has to rear its ugly head. So how does this interpretation of “diaper astronaut” Capt. Lisa Nowak (who here goes by Lisa Cola) go awry? Especially in the final act.
Being away from terra firm for almost a two-week period has apparently given Lisa an exhilaration which prompts a landing that leaves her needing more than a reality check. Was she lost in space, so to speak, that rendered a special kind of post-traumatic stress?
A milquetoast husband (Dan Stevens) isn’t able to figure out what is going on as her superiors ground Lucy who signed up to go back up in three weeks. Not having the drug of choice (perhaps like the protagonist played by Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker) compels her into a relationship with a colleague/instructor. Mark Goodman of course, complications ensue involving another fellow space professional played by Aazie Beetz (also in this week’s controversial, gritty Joker).
But is delving into Lucy’s milieu as noticeable as Hawley’s stylizing of the material? What happens as Portman (who sounds a bit like she did opposite Ashely Judd in Where The Heart is) who does her utmost to give Lucy texture is the metaphoric shifting of aspect ratios based on her vantage point. When it’s getting difficult in a manner of speaking an alternation to 1:37 is used and vice versa. Yet, what appears kind of intriguing at the outset ends up a nagging diversion on the whole.
Hawley’s creative genius from the small-screen is missing in what falls to really lift off (in a 1000 mile scheme with a knife and BB gun, as well as disguise) like what the Coen Bros. produced in 1996s Fargo that sparked his acuity. Its inevitable an actress of Portman’s ilk will have a few clunkers. Although in a ham-fisted endeavor Hamm (see Beirut and Baby Driver) invests a solid rakish presence and Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream) delivers pungent ripostes as Lucy’s nana.