Lucy in the Sky tells the story of Lucy Cola, an astronaut who returns home to Earth after a length mission. Although her life consists of a loving relationship with her husband, Drew (Dan Stevens), and a job that she loves, Lucy feels restless and struggles to reintegrate herself into her daily routine. Looking for the thrill that she has left behind, she becomes involved with roguish astronaut Mark Goodwin (Jon Hamm) and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that is quickly becoming too small for her.
Written and directed by Noah Hawley (FX’s Fargo), Lucy in the Sky is an ambitious look at the tensions that can take place when our lives simply don’t measure up to our dreams. Based loosely on a true story of a female astronaut who suffered an emotional breakdown after returning to Earth, Lucy depicts its titular star as one who yearns for the rush of the heavens yet remains trapped by her everyday life. (After all, how can you compare unraveling the mysteries of the universe with ‘mundane’ moments like morning coffee and driving your kid to school?)
Unfortunately, while performances by Portman and Hamm are fine, a muddled script that loses its way prevents Lucy from ever really taking off. Though grand in its vision, Hawley’s film simply doesn’t stay on trajectory, proving unable to properly balance Lucy’s struggles with some over-the-top visuals. (For instance, one scene featuring a cover of The Beatle’s iconic Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds looks great but doesn’t match the pace of the film and simply feels out of place.)
Wearing its heart on its sleeve, Lucy in the Sky is very interested in exploring what happens when one loses sight of what’s truly important. Though a decorated astronaut, Lucy struggles to see the beauty of everyday life. Having witnessed the Earth from the perspective of the heavens, Lucy has lost all sense of wonder for anything on the ground.
Despite the fact that she is cared for and appreciated by those around her, she views her life as increasingly mundane, inviting reckless behavior as she attempts to fill the void of meaninglessness that has crept inside her soul. In doing so, Lucy demonstrates on a grand scale what happens when so many often lose sight of the importance of genuine love and relationships over accomplishments. Desperate to return to the heavens, she is willing to sacrifice everything—and everyone—around her in order to once again feel the rush of success and beauty. At the same time, Lucy gradually loses a piece of her soul as her passion gives way to obsession.
For Lucy, the only thing left that can be good in the world is for her to feel all powerful again by returning to the heavens. However, as a result, the healing quality of loving relationships slowly becomes lost, leaving her without emotional grounding or hope.
Though ambitious in its scope, a confusing script hampers Lucy in the Sky from launching to the heights it could have reached. However, despite its glaring flaws, Lucy does features solid performances from an underused supporting cast that includes Ellen Burstyn, Nick Offerman, Zazie Beetz and Stevens. Even so, despite expectations that soar to the heavens, the finest of talent can’t help a script that is unable to get off the ground.