Visually enticing and well acted, but poorly executes good ideas. ** out of ****.4/10
THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE / (1999) **
Johnny Depp plays a NASA astronaut named Spencer Armacost who, while on a space mission, losses contact with Earth for two minutes. He and his colleague, Alex Streck (Nick Cassavetes), return home to their spouses, Jillian Armacost (Charlize Theron) and Natalie Streck (Donna Murphy). Bizarre episodes begin to occur with Alex, leaving Jillian suspicious of her husband's condition. As her husband's strange behavior increases, Jillian begins to question what really happened in those 120 seconds.
"The Astronaut's Wife," written and directed by Rand Ravich, poorly executes good ideas. We have imaginative and potentially suspenseful ideas with this film's concepts behind such happenings in two minutes as Spencer and Alex are in galactic boundaries. The gradual increase in Spencer's unusual behavior depicts effective suspense-but thorough introduction of the characters does not take place, nor do we witness the key events in which the rest of the move hinges upon. Consequently, "The Astronaut's Wife" does not work.
The film's first act is full of incidences, characters, and subplots. Clearly too many things happen too early in the story. Within the first thirty minutes the production attempts to develop two separate relationships, shows us the atmosphere of a teacher's workplace, something bizarre transpires out of earth's orbit, a decision is made to resign and move to New York, a suicide takes place, a character mysteriously dies, and probably more. I just couldn't follow the plot.
I liked the eerie, supernatural overtones located throughout the production. The film is smart to reveal the right amounts of information at the precise time. There is also a certain style to "The Astronaut's Wife," containing an elusive mood, a weirdly intriguing design, and some tense and unusual camera angles. The movie becomes more interesting as we reach the closing.
Charlize Theron has been in a lot of movies lately, but "The Astronaut's Wife" is her first leading role. She seems to have come out of left field in 1997 with the comedy "Trail and Error." Afterwards, she contributed larger performances in "The Devil's Advocate," "Celebrity," "Mighty Joe Young," and most recently "The Cider House Rules," and "Reindeer Games." Her role in "The Astronaut's Wife" is a little more complex than her past credits, excluding her enticing and believable acting job in "The Devil's Advocate." She presents the traumatized Jillian Armacost with the perfect blend of zest and tragic confusion.
Depp and Theron conjure a chemistry-rich couple. The movie very clearly takes Jillian's point of view instead of allowing us to know mysteries with Spencer. This stays consistent and focused, but sometimes leaves us pondering about unexplained events.
"The Astronaut's Wife" builds for an awe-inducing conclusion through revealing and intriguing dialogue and an omnipresent undertone. The film suggests a form of extraterrestrial is behind the deaths of several characters as well as the strange behavior of Spencer, but we learn the truth only in the end. Call "The Astronaut's Wife" an unusual "The X Files" episode featuring a cliffhanger conclusion and a supernatural climax. The movie must have appeared really exciting on script. If only more capable filmmakers would have claimed this production we may have had a real winner. Instead audiences feel disappointment and failure, potential is wasted and originality is underscored