Lucy in the Sky

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Lucy in the Sky
Lucy in the Sky poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNoah Hawley
Screenplay by
  • Brian C. Brown
  • Elliott DiGuiseppi
  • Noah Hawley
Story by
  • Brian C. Brown
  • Elliott DiGuiseppi
Produced by
CinematographyPolly Morgan
Edited byRegis Kimble
Music byJeff Russo
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date
  • September 11, 2019 (2019-09-11) (TIFF)
  • October 4, 2019 (2019-10-04) (United States)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$21.4 million[1]
Box office$325,950[1][2]

Lucy in the Sky is a 2019 American science fiction drama film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Noah Hawley (in his feature directorial debut), loosely inspired by the life of NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak.[3] The film stars Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens, Colman Domingo, and Ellen Burstyn.

Lucy in the Sky had its world premiere at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2019,[4][5] and was theatrically released in the United States by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on October 4, 2019. The film received negative reviews from critics and was a box-office bomb, grossing mere $325,950 against its $21.4 million budget.


Astronaut Lucy Cola is left awestruck from her first mission in outer space. Upon returning to Earth, she immediately feels disconnected from her normal life with her husband and niece. Although required to undergo NASA therapy and recommended to rest, Lucy begins pushing herself physically and mentally in order to return to space on the next available mission. During training, Lucy encounters a younger female astronaut named Erin. Bored by and frustrated with her supportive husband, Lucy begins spending time with other astronauts who have been to space, eventually beginning an affair with one named Mark.

Determined to beat a record recently set by Erin, Lucy nearly drowns during an underwater test, but remains completely calm with her heartbeat actually growing calmer. Later it is discovered that Mark is also having an affair with Erin, leaving Lucy feeling increasingly isolated from her husband. Refusing to be beaten, Lucy pushes to escalate her affair and demands that Mark cease his relationship with Erin. Lucy's beloved grandmother dies of a stroke, an event that leaves Lucy deeply distressed and causing her husband to be increasingly concerned by her erratic behavior. Breaking down after the funeral, Lucy walks out on her husband, with her teenage niece in tow. She cries in a public restroom at a bowling alley and asks, "Is this as good as it gets?"

NASA administration confronts Lucy with her near drowning (as well as evidence that she has been blowing off therapy) and tells her she is being passed over for the role in the upcoming mission. Despite promises that she can qualify for the following mission in three years time, Lucy becomes furious and paranoid that she has been passed over for ulterior reasons. Breaking into Mark's computer, Lucy finds emails showing both that he has continued his affair with Erin, as well as correspondence from Mark urging NASA that Lucy be passed over. Her paranoia is confirmed when Lucy finds that Erin has been selected for the mission.

With her grip on reality now completely unraveling, Lucy decides to take revenge on Mark and Erin. Lucy and her niece embark on a cross country trip. Along the way, she experiences hallucinations of her grandmother and leaves emotionally erratic messages for NASA. Wearing a wig, Lucy storms into an airport where Mark and Erin are located. Stalking Mark to his car, Lucy tearfully confronts him but is stopped when Erin appears. Mark is blinded by fly spray and drives off. Lucy completely breaks down and is apprehended by the police while attempting to flee. An assortment of weapons and tools are discovered in her car.

Three years later, Lucy's niece is giving a presentation in class, with Lucy's husband in attendance. Lucy is working as a beekeeper; she closes one of the hives, then opens the hood of her protective suit, smiling momentarily at the bees and one butterfly flying around her.



In February 2017, Noah Hawley was brought onto the project, then known as Pale Blue Dot, to produce alongside Bruna Papandrea and Reese Witherspoon, with Witherspoon intended to star in the lead role.[6] However, in November 2017, Witherspoon dropped out of the film in order to shoot a second season of Big Little Lies.[7]

By January 2018, Hawley was also set to direct the film, while Natalie Portman entered into negotiations for the lead role.[8] The film is Hawley's feature film directorial debut,[9] and derives its title from the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".[10] In March 2018, Jon Hamm joined the cast.[11] In April 2018, Zazie Beetz joined the cast, with Dan Stevens joining in May.[12][13] In June 2018, Ellen Burstyn joined the cast to portray the grandmother of Portman's character.[14] In July 2018, Colman Domingo and Jeremiah Birkett joined the cast of the film.[15] In February 2019, it was announced Nick Offerman had been cast in the film.[16]

Filming began in June 2018.[17][18]


The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2019.[19] It was released on October 4, 2019.[20]


Box office[edit]

The film made $55,000 from 37 theaters in its opening weekend, which was described as "terrible".[21]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 21% based on 124 reviews, with a weighted average of 4.40/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Natalie Portman gives it her all, but it isn't enough to overcome Lucy in the Sky's confused approach to its jumbled story."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[23]

At the 46th Saturn Awards, the film earned three nominations: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actress for Portman, and Best Supporting Actress for Burstyn.[24]


In November 2018, retired astronaut Marsha Ivins, who flew five missions, criticized the premise of the plot and denied that there is such a thing as a "longstanding idea that says astronauts begin to lose their grip on reality after being in space for an extended period of time".[25][26][27] Following its premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, multiple media outlets, some jokingly, criticized the film for failing to include the more salacious elements of Nowak's real-life case, in particular, her use of adult diapers.[28][29][30][31]


  1. ^ a b "Lucy In The Sky". Bomb Report. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  2. ^ "Lucy in the Sky (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  3. ^ Martinez, Gina (October 3, 2019). "The True Story Behind Lucy in the Sky—and the One Key Detail the Movie Leaves Out". Time. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  4. ^ "Lucy in the Sky". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  5. ^ "TIFF 2019: Lucy in the Sky with Natalie Portman, Mick Jagger's The Burnt Orange Heresy to screen". August 13, 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (February 18, 2017). "Noah Hawley to Produce Reese Witherspoon's Astronaut Drama 'Pale Blue Dot'". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Hipes, Patrick (November 9, 2017). "'Big Little Lies': Reese Witherspoon Backs Out Of 'Pale Blue Dot' As HBO Miniseries Nears Second Installment". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys; Galuppo, Mia (January 11, 2018). "Natalie Portman to Star in Astronaut Drama 'Pale Blue Dot'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  9. ^ Erbland, Kate (October 4, 2019). "Noah Hawley Comes to Terms With 'Lucy in the Sky' Bad Reviews: 'It's Not a Movie for Everybody'". IndieWire. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  10. ^ Desta, Yohana (March 19, 2019). "Natalie Portman Is a Twangy Astronaut in Trippy Lucy in the Sky Trailer". Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 14, 2018). "Jon Hamm to Star With Natalie Portman in Astronaut Drama 'Pale Blue Dot' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  12. ^ Kit, Borys; Galuppo, Mia (April 2, 2018). "Zazie Beetz in Talks to Join Natalie Portman in 'Pale Blue Dot' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  13. ^ Kit, Borys; Galuppo, Mia (May 10, 2018). "Dan Stevens Joining Natalie Portman in Fox Searchight's Noah Hawley Drama (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  14. ^ Kit, Borys; Galuppo, Mia (June 8, 2018). "Ellen Burstyn Joins Natalie Portman in Fox Searchlight's Noah Hawley Drama (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  15. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (July 10, 2018). "'Fear the Walking Dead' Star Colman Domingo Joins Fox Searchlight's Noah Hawley Film". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  16. ^ Marc, Christopher (February 12, 2019). "EXCLUSIVE: Nick Offerman Has A Role In Noah Hawley's Sci-Fi Drama 'Lucy In The Sky' Starring Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm". Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  17. ^ Hooton, Christopher (June 28, 2018). "Zazie Beetz: 'My German identity is really important to me'". The Independent. Retrieved July 2, 2018.
  18. ^ First Photo: Natalie Portman In “Pale Blue Dot”
  19. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 13, 2019). "'The Aeronauts,' 'Burnt Orange Heresy' Added to Toronto Film Fest Lineup". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  20. ^ "LUCY IN THE SKY, Starring Natalie Portman, Arrives This October". Rama Screen. August 8, 2019. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 6, 2019). "Warner Bros. Laughing All The Way To The Bank With 'Joker': $94M Debut Reps Records For October, Todd Phillips, Joaquin Phoenix & Robert De Niro". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  22. ^ "Lucy in the Sky (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  23. ^ "Lucy in the Sky Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  24. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 4, 2021). "Saturn Awards Nominations: 'Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker', 'Tenet', 'Walking Dead', 'Outlander' Lead List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  25. ^ "What Hollywood Gets Wrong About Female Astronauts and the Reality of Space". Time. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "Reese Witherspoon Playing A PTSD Astronaut In Pale Blue Dot". CINEMABLEND. May 13, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  27. ^ "Fly men to the moon: Ad Astra and the toxic masculinity of space films". The Guardian. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  28. ^ "Give Us Diapers in Natalie Portman's Diaper Astronaut Movie, You Cowards". Vice. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  29. ^ "I'm Boycotting Natalie Portman's Diaperless Astronaut Diaper Movie". Slate. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  30. ^ "There's A Troubling Lack of Diapers In Lucy In The Sky". AV Club. September 13, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  31. ^ "Where the Hell Is Natalie Portmans Diaper In Lucy In the Sky". Vulture. September 13, 2019. Retrieved September 12, 2019.

External links[edit]