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Lucy in the Sky


Stars: Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens, Colman Domingo, Ellen Burstyn, Nick Offerman, Tig Notaro, Pearl Amanda Dickson, Jeffrey Donovan

Director: Noah Hawley

Hawley (co-writer with Brian C Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi) kicks off his directorial debut on a visual high featuring NASA astronaut Portman floating alone in space and gazing down on the Earth is wonder and awe.

Since we've already been there recently with Brad Pitt in Ad Astra, Hawley sends Portman back to Earth where, reunited with her bland-as-a-TV series husband Stevens, she is soon yearning to return to space, settling for an affair with fellow astronaut (and unfortunately named, if misspelt) Hamm.

Alas, the affair sours when Hamm dumps Portman in favour of (yet another) astronaut, blandly played by the memorably named, if otherwise eminently forgettable, Zazie Beetz.

And, unfortunately, NASA nixes Portman's hopes of going into orbit once more, leaving her Earthbound and becoming increasingly emotionally fraught...

Cue mounting melodrama over-flavoured with cliched Reader's Digest-level psychological motivation which culminates when Portman, wearing a blonde wig she has bought in a supermarket, sets out carrying her late mother's pistol with homicide in mind...

The film, we learn, is 'loosely based' on the real-life story of a disgraced female former astronaut who was arrested in 2007 for attempting to kidnap her ex-lover's new girlfriend.

Regrettably, despite some impressive hard work by Portman and an enjoyable scene-stealing turn by Burstyn as Portman's grandmother, the blend of cliched psychology, illicit romance and Earthbound characters fails to take off into an entertaining orbit.

While the title might suggest homage (more like fromage, if I am honest) to the Beatles, the result is Hollywood paste, not diamonds.

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
125 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 Dec 2019