Directed and written by Rand Ravich, the 1999 science fiction drama ‘The Astronaut’s Wife‘ was released by New Line Cinema and was nominated for “Best Film” at the Sitges Film Festival when it premiered.
Elementary teacher Jillian (Charlize Theron) is the wife of NASA astronaut pilot Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp). During a mission, Spencer and Captain Alex Streck (Nick Cassavetes) go dark for two minutes, but are returned. However, Alex dies of a massive stroke and his wife Natalie Streck (Donna Murphy) commits suicide soon after. After moving to New York, Spencer joins a technology firm and designs a military plane. Jillian, however, soon notices that her husband is not who he seems to be anymore as his behavior grows sinister. Her sister Nan (Clea DuVall) thinks she is having difficulties due to her pregnancy with twins and her past depression after her parents died. After a run-in with former NASA exec Sherman Reese (Joe Morton) who claims something inhuman happened to her husband, Jillian’s worries deepen.
This movie was a box office bomb and received poor reviews when it was released in 1999. Per the usual, I think the critics were judging it too harshly.
Now I do agree the pace was a bit slow and it tried to cram too many plot points into the story, but overall, I think it was a fascinating film. You definitely felt the anxiety and later terror of its antagonist, traveling with her as she unravels the mystery of what happened to her husband on that fateful mission. You feel every moment ratchet up as the stakes are raised from suspicion to conspiracy.
Both of the leads in Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron are excellent. They are impressive, delivering on the acting setting in every way possible. The two of them have such range and you can tell it from this film. If anything, their ability to act is what makes the movie even more impressive.
Bottom line, The Astronaut’s Wife is an excellent display of talent on every level. Its plot, characters, and thrills keep you hooked. Sure, it got a little slow at times, but it is smart and impressive.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Strong foul language, Disturbing images
FAVORITE QUOTE: Something happened up there that these men did not train for!
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.