Lucy in the Sky Parent Guide
The talented cast have been launched into the void by poor screenwriting and dreadful cinematography.
Parent Movie Review
Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) is one of the lucky few to make the cut as an astronaut and then to go into space, in her case, on the Space Shuttle servicing the International Space Station. But coming back to earth turns out to be more difficult than heading for the stars. Life on terra firma feels strangely flat, her marriage sputters, and she develops an interest in fellow astronaut Mark Goodwin (John Hamm). From there, her life begins a downwards spiral…
This is a very weird movie. That’s just fine; I’m usually a big fan of weird movies, except that Lucy in the Sky is also crushingly dull. Lucy may have pulled eight times Earth’s gravity on a launch, but I felt like I had at least 30 Gs on my eyelids as I tried desperately to stay awake through the entire two hour runtime.
There are numerous issues that drag this film down, but the most noticeable is its aggravating cinematography. The movie is shot in an intermittent full-screen aspect ratio, which I wouldn’t normally find annoying, except it keeps switching between widescreen and fullscreen. No matter how you justify that from a narrative perspective, it’s still incredibly irritating. Combined with a narrow depth of field, it makes for an odd viewing experience, with the boundaries of the screen subject to change without notice, and objects phasing in and out of the narrow focus.
The film also fails on the plot – which should have been interesting in a true-crime-TV-movie-of-the-week kind of way. Loosely based on the real-life criminal exploits of Lisa Nowak, an astronaut who managed to blow up her personal life in similar circumstances, it’s not a bad story. The problem is….everything else. The dialogue is flat and often odd, and the pacing is brutally slow. This does a real disservice to a talented cast, who have been launched into the void by poor screenwriting and directing.
If you’re thinking of watching this movie with teenagers, you’ll be wondering if the R rating is merited. The answer is, “Pretty much.”. There are two scenes of adulterous sex, one involving an activity we can’t describe on a family website. There is also more drinking than parents will like, and it’s more than a little disconcerting to see what appears to be half the staff at NASA getting drunk during the day. I’d be less nervous if they weren’t responsible for launching things into orbit.
I tried really hard to like this movie - which was a mistake. It kept me awake for longer than I would have liked. But I’m a sucker for movies about space, and I hoped that at some point the soap-opera drama and general strangeness would take a backseat to really anything else. Instead, the only thing in the backseat was an unstable married astronaut with a high-school crush on a co-worker and all the restraint of your neighborhood meth addict. Not exactly the out-of-this-world space movie I was looking for.Directed by Noah Hawley. Starring Natalie Portman, John Hamm, Zazie Beetz. Running time: 124 minutes. Theatrical release October 18, 2019. Updated April 6, 2020
Watch the trailer for Lucy in the Sky
Lucy in the Sky
Rating & Content Info
Why is Lucy in the Sky rated R? Lucy in the Sky is rated R by the MPAA for language and some sexual content.
Violence: A woman sprays insecticide at a man; he crashes the car he is driving into another one and drives erratically. A woman stands on a ledge; she seems suicidal. There are conversations relating to violence, including men being chased and/or shot. There are scenes involving people shouting and threatening one another. A woman buys supplies to abduct and tie up another person. People are seen with firearms but we don’t see them being used.
Sexual Content: There are two adulterous sex scenes; neither involve nudity but the activity being engaged in is obvious. There are scenes involving men and women kissing. Another scene implies sexual activity.
Profanity: There are 16 uses of extreme profanity, as well as 10 uses of scatological profanity, and 5 terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently shown drinking, sometimes to excess. One character is shown smoking cigarettes.
Page last updated April 6, 2020
Lucy in the Sky Parents' Guide
Why do you think Lucy behaved as she did? Do you think it was related to psychological changes caused by her time in space?
Are you familiar with the effects of space flight on the human body and mind? Do you think we should back down on space exploration, study the issue more deeply, and/or provide more support to astronauts?
Scientific American: Mental Health in Outer Space
Psychology Today: Astronauts Open Up About Depression and Isolation in Space
Astronaut.com: Space Stress: How Astronauts Manage Their Mental Health
The Atlantic: What a Year in Space Did to Scott Kelly
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Diane Fanning has written the story of Lisa Nowak in Out There: The In-Depth Story of the Astronaut Love Triangle Case that Shocked America.
For more about adjusting to earth after time in space, read astronaut Scott Kelly’s book, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery.