If there’s one thing I’ve learned from movies about fictional astronauts, it’s that being in space will mess you up. Whether you’re fighting off aliens or having existential conversations with the ghost of George Clooney, some mind-melting stuff if going to go down once you enter orbit. That’s the impression I get from the first teaser trailer for Lucy in the Sky, starring Natalie Portman.
According to the official synopsis, Lucy in the Sky follows “An astronaut returns to Earth after a lengthy mission and begins an affair with a fellow astronaut. She heads into a downward spiral as she loses her connection to her family — a condition that can afflict those who spend a long time in space — and when her lover begins another affair with an astronaut trainee, the bottom drops out.”
The film, which also stars Jon Hamm, Dan Stevens, and Zazie Beetz, is directed by Noah Hawley, the creator behind Legion and the Fargo television series. Hawley seems to be bringing the same psychedelic energy to the film that he brought to Legion, one of the most original (if confusing) series of the past few years.
The film is loosely based on the bizarre story of real-life NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, who was a mission flight engineer on the space shuttle Discovery in 2006. In 2007, she drove Houston to Orlando, sporting some NASA-issue diapers, to confront her ex-lover William Oefelein, who had started a relationship with fellow engineer Colleen Shipman. Nowak attacked Shipman in her car, spraying her with pepper spray and trying to force her way into the car before Shipman escaped.
Nowak was arrested for attempted kidnapping and murder, burglary with assault, and battery. After a lengthy court trial, she was sentenced to one year of probation and received an “other than honorable” discharge from the navy. The case quickly caught national attention and became a late night punchline.
Lucy in the Sky appears to be exploring the mental and emotional disconnect that occurs after Lucy’s space mission. Portman says in the trailer, “I go up there and see the whole universe and everything here looks so small.” Hamm follows up, “you got to see the vast celestial everything, and it blew your mind, so now nothing makes sense.”
While we’ve had plenty of movies about astronauts in space, we’ve seen little of their adjustment and return to normal life once they come back down to earth. It’s fascinating subject matter: do astronauts experience a sort of PTSD or alienation after their journeys? How does space travel affect one’s mind?
This is rich territory to explore, and Portman is a more than capable actor to handle it. She won an Oscar for her exploration of obsession and madness in Black Swan, and this film could easily be another award-winning performance from her.
What do you think of the Lucy in the Sky trailer? Are you excited for the film?
(via First Showing, image: screencap)
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