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Parents' Guide to

Lucy in the Sky

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Woman loses her grip in fact-based drama with sex, language.

Movie R 2019 124 minutes
Lucy in the Sky Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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This "astronaut on the verge of a nervous breakdown" drama is fitfully compelling, but ultimately it's too long and doesn't effectively close the loop, message-wise. Is Lucy in the Sky a drama about a female astronaut facing sexism and marginalization at work by men who term her hysterical? A horror story about a woman who's losing her grip due to sexual jealousy? A cautionary fable about the pressures of NASA and the potential for "space crazies"? As we watch Portman slowly lose her grip -- and she does so sympathetically, audiences will have to admit -- we're not really reached by her anguish, because it's unclear exactly what it's about. Some may argue that Lisa Nowak, the former astronaut whose tumultuous life story forms the basis for this film, never really spelled out exactly why she committed her notorious crime -- but shouldn't a movie about just that nail down the main character's reasoning? Or else what is a movie about it for?

No matter. Director Noah Hawley, best known for his work on another true-crime-adjacent drama, Fargo, creates cinematic magic at times. As Lucy dreams about returning to space and obsessively remembers the time she spent there, beautiful imagery of stars, clouds, and silent Lucy in her suit casts a dreamlike spell. But that's not enough to carry viewers through Lucy's long breakdown. It's curious, too, that Hawley added a daughter-ish figure to the story -- it's unduly cruel that she's dragged along on Lucy's devilish drive and then apparently abandoned by her aunt forever (though her uncle by marriage thankfully seems to take her in). It's just one more puzzling choice in a movie that's full of them.

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