Noah Hawley has a reputation for being this creative genius from television, especially with his landmark work on the first two seasons of the FX show “Fargo.” The reputation has been hard-earned, Hawley is no doubt a man of visionary talents that has earned the right to make his feature directing debut “Lucy in the Sky.”
Hawley looks to bring the dark, almost miraculous spell of his writing to the big screen by telling the true story of NASA Captain Lisa Nowak (Lucy in the movie as played by Natalie Portman), who made headlines in 2007 by driving from Houston to Orlando, with a knife and a BB gun, to confront a former lover, astronaut (Jon Hamm) and his new girlfriend (Zazie Beetz).
What triggered the violent act? The movie suggests it wasn’t necessarily the affair as much as Lucy returning to earth from a life-changing mission in space and beginning to slowly unravel and lose touch with reality. In other words, this descent into madness was a case of post-traumatic space disorder.
The endorphin rush Lucy has in the space voyage, which opens the movie, completely destroys her ability to adjust back on earth. It doesn’t help that her dull husband (Dan Stevens) is too ignorant to realize it. However, her superiors do and decide to ground her. Lucy will not go back to her space drug and, suffice to say, this results in her co plenteous losing grip of sanity.
The synopsis of “Lucy in the Sky” is loosely based on Nowak’s story, but Hawley is more keen in making a highly stylized affair than digging deeper into Lucy’s plight. His frequent alteration of aspect ratios is supposed to be a metaphor of Lucy’s world both expanding and closing in. The 1.37x1 aspect ratio, an alteration that seems inspired at first, becomes a distraction as the movie chugs along.
Portman is her usual invested self, sporting a heavy Southern accent and injecting as many layers as she can to Lucy. Hamm is also excellent as the handsome and womanizing NASA instructor.
The story itself, although at times a little too subtle and character-driven for its own good, eventually veers into Fatal Attraction revenge territory. It should have been expected as there are hints of melodrama throughout. And yet, Hawley’s ambitions are highly respectful. Much like he’s done in “Fargo” he wants to aim for the stars, but, this time around, he can’t even achieve liftoff. [C]