Starring: Charlize Theron, Johnny Depp, Joe Morton
Director: Rand Ravich
Running Time: 109 mins
The Astronaut’s Wife is an American film about an astronaut who, after surviving a short blackout while in orbit, returns home to his wife. However, over the following months and years, she comes to realise that he’s not quite the same man who went up in the first place.
This film is so ridiculous. Apart from the fact that it features a crazy premise with a totally predictable outcome, it’s a completely over-the-top soap opera with poor directing and excessive performances across the board. It does have some hilariously stupid moments, and the whole film’s preposterousness puts it close to the so-bad-it’s-good category, but it really drags on over its duration, builiding up to a rubbish climax that you could see coming years before.
Now, there’s no problem with trying to bring some interesting sci-fi into the normal world, and there is a world in which The Astronaut’s Wife could have made for an intriguing and tense tale that would live up to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock’s excellent marital thriller Suspicion.
However, what director Rand Ravich decides to do with this story means it’s doomed from the start. Rather than making it really focus on the emotional torment that Charlize Theron’s character begins to suffer from as she begins to suspect her husband more and more, the film instead acts out like a daytime soap opear, not really going all that deep into the deeper, emotional side of the story, but rather allowing for some over-the-top and melodramatic moments to try and summarise all that in a few seconds.
So, there are a couple of moments, most of which centre around Theron’s character, where the drama hits its highest point, and Theron goes into full overacting mode, bursting into tears and hyperventilating to an extent that just doesn’t feel dramatically realistic (even in a story like this), rather making for a pretty laughable couple of scenes where you just can’t help but see how silly it is that the film is taking itself so seriously despite putting so little effort in.
The other major issue that I have with this story is that it doesn’t leave any room for excitement or unpredictability. I can honestly say that every single twist or turn that the story takes was already made fully evident and predictable in earlier scenes, and with the generic soap opera formula playing into things as well, you can easily formulate the entire plot from beginning to end within a few seconds.
Overall, I don’t think there is much to praise about The Astronaut’s Wife. Stupid and often laughable it may be, but in reality it’s a dull and formulaic movie with a ridiculous premise and an awfully-balanced atmosphere, failing to bring any real dramatic intrigue or simple entertainment to the table at any point, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.4.