“She’s refusing to let go.”
Glossy, but stylistically messy semi-real life tale of suicidal ambition, submerged emotional landscapes, gaslighting lovers, and encountering diamonds in the sky.
There was a lot to tap into in Noah Hawley‘s lavishly shot, aspect ratio defying Lucy In The Sky (2019), the story of an astronaut called Lucy (shades of the true story of Lisa Nowak), played with determined gusto by Natalie Portman, and the consequences of her encounter with the archetypal realm, i.e. the transcendental cosmic silence of outer space.
Lucy’s Nana (Ellen Burstyn, always genius), her beloved grandmother, a hard-nosed matriarch of puritan ethics, presents the key to her ambition. Her tough love, lovely and tragic, at the same time, channels the faceless force so often found in families with zero-sum game mentality of success and failure, breeding alcoholism, workaholism, and detachment. Never finding the world in that grain of sand, its members seek only grand achievement, or nothing at all, so often remaining emotionally immature.
When Lucy returns from her mission, the crisis of faith regarding this family quasi religion becomes obvious. Till then seemingly happily married, her husband Drew (Dan Stevens) almost an annoying brand of decent, she quickly finds herself involved in an affair with a detached, alcoholic, and predictably narcissistic lover (Jon Hamm, an easy fit as Mark), as exit route from a life she suddenly perceives as artificial and dull. The undoubtedly charming Mark is, unfortunately, entirely predatory, a divorced colleague who spots her vulnerabilities from mile away on the racing track. This passionate panacea for her good girl ways she awkwardly finds out is seeing another woman. Inevitably, Lucy’s only female rival in her NASA team (Zazie Beetz).
Sexuality being the natural remedy for the pain of cosmic insignificance, Lucy, the smart girl she was trained to be, begins competing for Mark’s love, falling far from the heights she inhabited, deep down the rabbit hole of jealousy and doomed romance, yet catalysed into an epiphany by connecting with another human being through the modality of feeling.
Then, her feisty chain-smoking Nana dies, and she is taken off the mission by her boss for being too emotional.
Not being able to comprehend why she lost her footing to this astonishing degree, Lucy embarks on a dubious, manic mission to disentangle this mystery i.e. confront the pair of colleagues who are now steady lovers, and who seem to have sneakily contributed to her professional demise, and thus, somehow, rescue her own lost self. She takes along her insisting niece, Blue Iris (Pearl Amanda Dickson), daughter of Lucy’s older brother, the daydreamer she always covered for.
Trapped in what looks essentially to be an emotional breakdown, after a lifetime of being locked in an overachieving hyper-rational mental drive, Iris turns out to be her true guardian – the only one who cares enough to not let her fall, irrevocably.
Although too gung ho and erratic to go digging fully into the mud of the psychological dynamics it depicts, somewhere in Lucy In The Sky lies a good story translated into fairly mainstream fare.
Nevertheless, it has merit, and I enjoyed its inconsistent but witty digressions. Sometimes, the right type of prose elevates the turmoil of shoddy romance, too prosaic to encounter through poetic means.
Author: © Milana Vujkov