Astronaut's Wife, The

Tagged: Film

Film (1999). New Line Cinema/Mad Chance. Directed and written by Rand Ravich. Cast includes Nick Cassavetes, Johnny Depp, Samantha Eggar, Clea Duvall, Joe Morton, Donna Murphy, Charlize Theron. 109 minutes. Colour.

There is little to say about the sad schizophrenic gap between the competent flow of Rand Ravich's direction of The Astronaut's Wife and the lame Cliché-ridden retro-bondage that slowly hamstrings the actual story. This slow betrayal of mise en scene and of attractive performances by the film's principals may help to explain a modest initial box-office take that plummeted within a week or so to near zero, with word-of-mouth almost certainly expressing viewers' dismay as the story they were following dwindled into lassitudinous nonsense.

Two astronauts – Commander Spencer Armacost (Depp) and Captain Alex Streck (Cassavetes) – live through a very Near Future extravehicular accident in near space, but on their return strike their wives – Jillian Armacost (Theron) and Natalie Streck (Murphy) as having been somehow altered. The Strecks both die under unusual circumstances, and it is later revealed that Natalie had been pregnant with twins. Rosemary's Baby (1968) directed by Roman Polanski comes inexorably to mind, and echoes embarrassingly through the remainder of the film, which unravels disconsolately into the revelation that Jillian's own pregnancy, which she is prevented from terminating, will result in the birth of twin Aliens. The film was novelized as The Astronaut's Wife (1999) by Robert Tine. [JC]

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