TIFF Review: Lucy in the Sky

Lucy in the Sky

Directed by Noah Hawley

Starring Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, and Zazie Beetz

Synopsis: Astronaut Lucy Cola (Portman) arrives back home from her first mission out to space and struggles with the emotional and psychological toll the pressure of this mission entailed. 

Review: Going into Toronto, Lucy in the Sky was one of my most anticipated films of the festival. You have a fantastic actress in Natalie Portman, Fox Searchlight’s backing, and an amazing trailer that gave nothing to the overall story of the film. It’s sad to say that aside from Portman, this was a huge disappointment. 

Being a Searchlight film and working with a smaller budget (reportedly $27 million), a lot of the scenes that took place in outer space looked great. Portman’s portrayal of Cola at times is difficult to watch because of the added pressure she is putting on herself. Now that she has been into space, she wants to go back to feel that rush again. She has always been number one, overachieving to the point where every day she repeats pre-flight steps to herself out loud in order so she can show off how well she remembers the checklist. Jon Hamm plays a Jon Hamm-type: handsome astronaut lady’s man who Lucy’s husband Drew (Dan Stevens) describes as a lonely action figure. The problem lies in the direction and execution of the material. 

There is no clear path narratively and the film ends up all over the place. The same flashbacks used more than once, strange decisions with aspect ratios for no apparent reason, and a conclusion that falls flat it just a few of the ways Lucy in the Sky falters. This could have been an interesting and special film but instead just falls flat. 

Proxima was another film at TIFF that dealt with the opposite perspective of a mother dealing with family life before heading into space. Lucy in the Sky could have taken a similar stripped-down approach and had a clearer focus, but instead tries to be a blockbuster on a mid-level budget. 

The Verdict: This should have been better given all involved, but instead it fails to launch. My grade for Lucy in the Sky is a C and will be released in the United States on October 4th.

Author: Sean Blanford

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