By A.D. Beal
Noah Hawley’s work in TV (Legion, Fargo) has always stood out among the entertainment landscape. His combination of odd characters, unique directing, editing, writing gave his productions an overall otherworldly feel. Noah brings all of these skills back once again with his latest development, Lucy In the Sky.
The film is loosely inspired by Lisa Nowak and her actions that led to NASA’s first Code Of Conduct. In the film, Nowak is Lucy Cola, an astronaut who returns from her first mission and is amazed by the experience. So much that she wants to go back immediately. Her desire leads to her committing act of infidelity, crime and attempted kidnapping. All as her mental state deteriorates.
Hawley does some incredible work mixing greenscreen and practical work showing Lucy’s descent into madness. The usage of different aspect ratios (which are likely meant to represent Lucy’s state of mind) are mixed though. Sometimes it actually works and creates some beautiful shots that puts us with Lucy. Other times, it comes off as if Hawley is simply showing off. Even the movement of the ratios within the film can be distracting. The score by Jeff Russo is very nerve wracking and would fit if it was the only music. Unfortunately, the filmmakers chose several pop and rock songs in scenes that distract from the tone of the film. The overall editing by Regis Kimble is very well done though.
Natalie Portman is perfect as Lucy and captures all of her different emotions without spelling them out for us. The scenes where she’s so clearly trying to hold everything in are especially compelling. Jon Hamm is good as Cola’s secret lover, even if he plays the standard Hamm character. Dan Stevens and Colman Domingo seem to have only one character trait: be concerned for Lucy. There was room for development in what should have been a great supporting cast.
Lucy In The Sky is a film with big ideas on its mind. Some of them work, and even those that don’t are admirable. I recommend it overall, though wish that it had gotten another script pass or even another edit. Novak’s real-life story is strange and has the potential for a great film. This was just not all it could have been.