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Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsTIFF 2019: Lucy in the Sky Review

Keith NoakesSeptember 13, 201977/100
Starring
Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz
Writers
Noah Hawley, Elliott DiGuiseppi, Brian C. Brown
Director
Noah Hawley
Rating
R (United States)
Running Time
124 minutes
Release Date
October 4th, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Lucy In The Sky was definitely a surprise as Noah Hawley got to show off his unique style on the big screen with a chilling tale that doesn't quite all work though Natalie Portman was sensational.

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.

Lucy in the Sky is perhaps best going into as blindly as possible. While the film’s trailers only give so much away (and rightfully so), suffice it to say that the film is so much more, for better or worse. As much as it is a sci-fi film (maximizing its limited budget), it is even better character study, though it wasn’t without its own problems. Hawley has made a name for himself in television with his unique style. Being his first feature film, that same style makes an appearance, however, it would come with mixed results. The effect this has on astronauts who venture into space and then return back to Earth is relatively unknown. Loosely based on a real-life story, this film attempts to explore this to arguable results.

Lucy in the Sky follows an astronaut aptly named Lucy (Portman) who just returned home after a mission in space. Despite the worrying of her fellow astronauts and NASA, Lucy assured them all that she was fine but it was clear that something wasn’t quite right. Ever since she returned from space, she clearly was a different person though her competitive nature and her desire to immediately go back to space only increased. Lucy became obsessed with this and this obsession took over, affecting her personal and professional lives before leading her on a downward spiral. Though her erratic behavior may be hard and/or slow to follow for some (including several aspect ratio changes), some of it felt like it came from nowhere. The film felt like it wasn’t sure what to do with Lucy at times or afraid to go too far. Nevertheless, she was still somewhat compelling to watch. Without giving anything away, she would get to some very twisty places, however, the film arguably stumbles on its way to the finish line while trying to justify itself.

Lucy in the Sky‘s story may not all work but the best part of the film was undoubtedly Natalie Portman’s performance as Lucy. She was compelling to watch as she showed considerable range over the course of her arc. While the film avoids calling Lucy’s condition a mental illness, Portman portrays Lucy with some semblance of humanity. Meanwhile. Hamm and Beetz as Mark Goodwin and Erin Eccles respectively were good as what would effectively be plot devices.

In the end, Lucy in the Sky was an erratic sci-fi thriller that may not all work but fans of Noah Hawley will find plenty to enjoy here. With this film, Hawley has definitely proven that he is worthy of helming more feature films.

*still courtesy of Fox Searchlight*


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