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Natalie Portman in the film Lucy in the Sky.

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Lucy in the Sky

Directed by Noah Hawley

Written by Brian C. Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi

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Starring Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm and Dan Stevens

Classification R; 124 minutes

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Sorta-kinda-not-really based on the true story of NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, who was charged with attempted kidnapping in the wake of an affair with a fellow astronaut, Lucy in the Sky never decides what cinematic orbit it should occupy.

Noah Hawley’s directorial debut may have started out as a feminist-forward film decrying the fact that women have to work five times as hard to succeed in the workplace, but it ends up being a movie whose message boils down to, “Ladies be crazy.”

New films this week, from Eddie Murphy’s energetic comeback Dolemite Is My Name to Ang Lee’s story-lacking spectacle Gemini Man

Natalie Portman stars as the titular Lucy, who, after having gone to outer space, returns home to a life far too ordinary, and quickly proceeds to lose her grip on reality, Black Swan-style.

Hawley can be a visually inventive storyteller, as evidenced by his TV reboot of Fargo and his superhero series Legion. But blown up to the big screen, his aesthetic is summed up by switching the aspect ratios several dozen times – to convey what, we’re never sure.

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On the other hand, Hawley employs the appreciated presence of a cranky Ellen Burstyn, who gets all the film’s best lines (there are approximately four of them, none of which can be printed here). And the film also makes room for a slick Jon Hamm, who gets to prove how good he is at playing a handsome jerk.

Lucy in the Sky opens Oct. 11.

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