Space-Race on Screen Continues with ‘Lucy’
Before Natalie Portman returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in “Thor: Love and Thunder” in 2021 she is taking a journey through a more familiar cosmos in “Lucy In The Sky,” the grounded Fox Searchlight Pictures sci-fi movie that is loosely based on a true story.
Natalie Portman plays Lucy Cola, an astronaut who visits space once and from there on becomes obsessed with returning to the infinite frontier. While the small slice of the film that actually takes place in space has a celestial feeling in the same vein as Alfonso Cuaròn’s “Gravity,” the bulk of the story happens back on Earth, as Cola feels increasingly detached from the planet and trains tenaciously for an opportunity to go back to the stars.
John Hamm plays Lucy’s ‘other’ Obsession
The movie is inspired by the true story of Lisa Norwok, an ambitious astronaut who had an affair with her colleague William Oefelein and was arrested for attempting to kidnap Oefelein’s other lover at the Orlando airport in 2007.
It is unclear how much “Lucy In The Sky” will actually take from Norwok’s life. It looks like the movie will focus more heavily on the fictional Lucy Cola’s ambition and her ceaseless drive to get back to space. However, the affair will surely play some role in the movie, as John Hamm plays the William Oefelein character named Mark Goodwin. If nothing else in the film, Goodwin’s relationship with Cola will spark scandal and put up roadblocks to her achieving her professional goals.
This quasi-fictional story was pieced together by director Noah Hawley and writers Brian C. Brown and Elliot G. DiGuiseppi. DiGuiseppi is actually best known as an editor for TV shows such as “Teen Wolf” and “Faking It.” Meanwhile, this is the first major feature film credit for both Hawley and Brown, both of whom have backgrounds predominantly in television.
Sometimes Bizarre Story not Strange Enough?
Naturally, with such an experimental creative team, we can expect a few narrative kinks in “Lucy In The Sky.” Ever since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film has been meeting criticism. In terms of genre, many complain that the film is hard to place, toeing the line of tonal inconsistency. While there is nothing negative to say about Portman or Hamm’s performances in the movie, many claim that their talents are not enough to keep the project afloat.
At the same time, some have accused the film of being scientifically or historically inaccurate. According to real astronaut Marsha Ivins, the movie’s notion that astronauts lose their grip on reality once they’ve been in space, is simply non-existent on any recognizable scale. Likewise, some have pointed out inconsistencies in the way “Lucy In The Sky” tries to reconfigure the Lisa Norwok story in a way that is not entirely accurate.
At the end of the day, though, “Lucy In The Sky” remains a piece of fiction. It may not be the fantasy space epic of “Star Wars” or even the grounded hard science fiction of “Ad Astra,” but it is ultimately a made up story. Certain elements may come from the real world, but on the whole, we should not compare the story to reality, but rather appreciate it for the creative entity that it is.
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