14 Nov 19
The 'hero's journey' is prevalent throughout cinema history, detailing the hardships of a mission or the long road ahead. The audience sit and wonder at the screen as we follow these characters on their undertakings, but rarely do we see the aftermath of such titanic achievements. That's where Lucy In The Sky comes in.
Natalie Portman stars as Lucy Cola, an astronaut whose transcendental experience in outer space leaves her detached from everyday life upon returning to Earth. Instead of a sense of achievement, she finds no satisfaction back with her husband, and sets her sights on returning to the stars as soon as possible. But after her life-changing experience, has she come home with enough sanity to get her back into orbit?
The film is loosely based on the experiences of real life astronaut Lisa Nowak and her activities upon returning from her mission, and is co-written and directed by the best-selling author Noah Hawley, although he's better-known to many for creating and writing the TV series Fargo and Legion. Anyone familiar with those shows will recognise their formal daringness throughout Lucy In The Sky, with its hallucinatory flashbacks and ever-changing aspect ratio - seeming to suggest both the determination in her purpose, and her slowly unravelling mental state. Portman is at her usual best here, and with a cast rounded off with the likes of John Hamm, Dan Stevens and Ellen Burstyn, the performances are strong all round.
With the last year alone having seen the release of such films as First Man and Ad Astra, as well as documentaries Apollo 11 and Armstrong, it might feel like there's something of an over-proliferation of 'astronaut movies' of late. Through its lead character, post-mission setting, and visual language, Lucy In The Sky manages to sound like a unique voice amongst those films, with its perspective offering up something quite unlike anything I've seen before.
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Berlinale 2019 as told by Paul Ridd, Acquisitions and Distribution Executive at Picturehouse.