Spaceman

I just want to go home.

Science Fiction Adventure Drama
108 min     6.786     2024     USA

Overview

Six months into a solo mission, a lonely astronaut confronts the cracks in his marriage with help from a mysterious creature he discovers on his ship.

Reviews

Brent Marchant wrote:
From time to time, a movie comes along that’s hard to define, and, hence, it’s hard to know what to make of it. Such is the case with the second feature outing from filmmaker Johan Renck, a director best known for TV commercials and music videos, a reputation that bleeds through at times in this production. Viewer opinions and interpretations of this one are all across the board, making “Spaceman” one of the most challenging releases to peg in recent memory. This space-faring sci-fi release tells the tale of an astronaut (Adam Sandler) on a solo, long-term deep space mission to investigate a mysterious anomaly. However, he’s experiencing a profound sense of loneliness that’s distracting him from carrying out his quest, in large part because of marital troubles with his pregnant wife (Carey Mulligan) back on earth. As he seeks to sort out these matters, though, he’s further sidetracked by the unexpected appearance of an enigmatic alien that resembles a large nimble spider (voiced by Paul Dano) who possesses a profound philosophical wisdom. But how will all of this shake out, and what effect will it have on the mission? This scenario makes for an intriguing premise, but what exactly is the filmmaker’s intent in carrying it out? There are mixed tonal aspects here, some of which seem sincere, with others that come across as cheeky and cheesy, as if the director is giving the audience a good, sidelong wink. Indeed, it’s often difficult to tell which way the narrative is supposed to go. And, if straddling the fence is the real intent, it doesn’t quite work. So where does that leave us? I suppose it’s up to viewers to decide for themselves, but that seems shamelessly noncommittal. Based on the film’s attributes alone, there are good arguments for and against this offering. For instance, its ample metaphysical and philosophical insights are cogently presented and easy to understand, even if a bit saccharinely encrusted at times. It also represents a promising step up for Sandler’s attempt at reinventing himself as an actor in search of more substantive roles than the inanely silly parts he’s best known for. And the picture’s numerous deftly placed allusions to other sci-fi/fantasy projects enhance the narrative nicely, as seen in homages to “Interstellar” (2014), “Solaris” (2002), “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022) and even the lyrics to David Bowie’s Space Oddity. However, tedious pacing, occasionally poor sound quality and less-than-stellar visual effects (especially in the alien’s supremely tacky appearance) get in the way, further adding to the inherent overall ambiguity noted earlier. This one is thus up to you – and don’t be surprised if you come away from it with a different interpretation than what’s written here.
Louisa Moore - Screen Zealots wrote:
In director Johan Renck’s science fiction fantasy “Spaceman,” adapted from Jaroslav Kalfař’s 2017 novel Spaceman of Bohemia, viewers are taken on a philosophical journey into the depths of one man’s self-inflicted loneliness that manifests as a nightmarish friendship with a giant space spider. It takes a lot of guts to attempt a screen adaptation of such an abstract story, but Renck pulls it off, mostly with the help of a strong lead performance from Adam Sandler. Dubbed “the loneliest man in the world,” Jakub (Sandler) is six months into a solitary mission to investigate a mysterious phenomenon that lies on the edge of the solar system. Realizing the wife (Carey Mulligan) and marriage he left behind will likely not be there waiting upon his return, his desperation to repair the relationship grows. One day, Jakub discovers a giant alien spider he calls Hanuš (voice of Paul Dano) hiding in the ship. With the new companion on board, he develops an unlikely kinship and intense emotional bond with the creature. This is a story about two lonely travelers who find comfort in each other. They share deeply profound conversations about the nature and meaning of life, love, death, and the sting of regret and grief that can overpower a person’s existence. Jakub’s ambition has destroyed his life and his relationship, and his grip on reality is drifting away (there possibility is left open for viewers to decide if Hanuš is imaginary or indeed real). The spider can somehow read Jakub’s mind and access his life’s memories, and there’s a lot of hurt and emotional turmoil that’s been building up for decades. It’s a story of what it means to be human, but also one of companionship and mutual understanding. The effects crew did a bang-up job animating Hanuš, and the spider looks and feels real both physically (with his glossy eyes and hairy body) and emotionally (thanks to a moving voice performance from Dano). The spider is authentic with sympathy and companionship, and the friendship that develops between Hanuš and Jakub, whom he affectionately calls “skinny human,” is genuine. Sandler is an accomplished dramatic actor (something that’s easy to forget), and he is absolutely great here, depicting a tormented soul that’s well-worn with loneliness. Pensive and poignant, “Spaceman” isn’t going to be for everyone. There’s no denying that it’s a very weird film, but there is an abundance of thoughtful reflection about the struggle with confronting loneliness that’s told in a highly creative way. By: Louisa Moore / SCREEN ZEALOTS

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