Review: Lucy in the Sky

Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) is a strong woman whose determination and drive as an astronaut take her to space, where she’s deeply moved by the transcendent experience of seeing her life from afar. Back home as Lucy’s world suddenly feels too small, her connection with reality slowly unravels.

Plot: Astronaut Lucy Cola returns to Earth after a transcendent experience during a mission to space, and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too small.

Director:  Noah Hawley

Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1

Runtime: 124 min

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Natalie Portman gives it her all, but it isn’t enough to overcome Lucy in the Sky‘s confused approach to its jumbled story.

Online Ratings:

  1. Rotten Tomatoes 22% (Audience: 32%)
  2. IMDB 4.4
  3. Metacritic 36

“Everything works, except the story which gets lost in space.”


Astronaut Lucy Cola returns to Earth after a lengthy space mission where she begins an affair with fellow astronaut Mark Goodwin. Due to her experience far from home, Lucy heads into a downward spiral as she loses connection to her family, and when her lover begins another affair with an astronaut trainee, the bottom drops out. As you probably know, the film is loosely based on astronaut Lisa Nowak’s criminal activities around her romantic involvement with fellow astronaut William Oefelein — no diapers included.

I’m a big fan of space films, so anything that can get me in the cosmos (or close to it) gets me in the theater. The initial thought, or rather anticipation after seeing the trailer for Lucy in the Sky was — intrigued. There is a certain style to the way the movie seemed to be shot and after giving it watch last night, Hawley (the director) did a great job with below par material in his debut. He had a great vision and there are plenty of moments in the film where it’s on display. On top of great visuals from the director, Natalie Portman shines too, but the story (once again) puts everything she does on screen down. (Side note: It’s not a sci-fi space movie like the trailer promoted itself to be.)

Solid directing and great acting in the lead role, what’s the problem? Story. I believe this character study would have worked if the movie had some more space to breathe, no pun intended. One scene would start to develop, but then it would lead nowhere — another scene would strive to be ambitious or show more of an erratic mindset, but then it disappeared into space. Honestly, I don’t think my analysis makes any sense because it’s hard to describe Lucy in the Sky — everything seemingly works, expect the story which drags everything down. Even though bits and pieces work, the pieces that don’t are an eye-sore.

I came into this film seeing nothing but bad press and negative reviews. I don’t think its 22% bad, but it definitely a complicated look at a complicated individual that doesn’t end up saying anything.

Unfortunately, there is no way that I can justify giving you my recommendation to watch this film if you’re a casual individual looking for something new to watch. I think Fox Searchlight thought the same thing (or close to it) because they didn’t release this on home video — and instead made it a digital only release. That says a lot out of the gate. Otherwise, if you’re a space nerd like me, you have my blessing to check this out because it scratches the surface of the sci-fi genre because it dives into an astronauts mindset after experiencing space.

I hate to be this guy, but I can’t help but to image having this story get the A24 treatment… this type of character story under that umbrella could have done wonders.

Two things from this film are for sure; one, superb acting from Natalie Portman, and two, Noah Hawley has the eye and the technical prowess to create something special, so I look forward to what he will put his hands on next. Beyond that, you can get your eyes and ears on Lucy in the Sky today from your digital retailer. Like I said, I can recommend this to the space nerds, but otherwise you can pass on this one.

Did you catch Lucy in the Sky in the theater? Were you a fan of this movie? Are you interested at all? Let me know what you think in the comments below.



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