The Astronaut’s Wife (1999) – Movie Review

I just watched another bad movie that nobody cares about; it’s called The Astronaut’s Wife. It stars Johnny Depp as the Astronaut, and Charlize Theron as the Astronaut’s Wife. There are some good things about it, but it mostly sucks. And this movie is called The Astronaut’s Wife.

Let me address the positives first: The acting isn’t that bad. The best thing about the movie, aside from maybe the cinematography and editing, is Johnny Depp’s acting, however even his performance isn’t enough to elevate the material. Charlize Theron has it worse; not only is her performance not very good but her character is paper-thin. The other notable performances are from Joe Norton and Clea Duvall. Norton plays a guy working at NASA who is fired after suspecting that Depp’s character is possessed by aliens, and Duvall is Theron’s sister. They’re okay too.

And because I don’t feel like describing the plot yet I’ll elaborate on one of the film’s other redeeming qualities. The cinematography, even though some of the shots are rather trite, provides some interesting images like when Charlize Theron is watching footage of the space shuttle Johnny Depp is on is landing she’s silhouetted against the footage, and when her husband launches off she moves her hand near a window which vibrates as the result of the shuttle. The way the movie is shot at least makes it a bit more engaging to watch, but it doesn’t make-up for the bland script.

The movie starts off with Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp (and in case you haven’t noticed I don’t remember their characters’ names and I don’t have the motivation to refer to Imbd) just before Depp is going to be sent up Earth’s atmosphere to repair a satellite. And five minutes in the movie already starts to suck. One of the main problems with the movie is that the two central characters like any depth. Maybe Johnny Depp is forgiven for he’s an alien, but Charlize Theron just sucks. In the first few minutes of the film we should have gotten a greater “in” to what their relationship was like before Depp met aliens, as to give the characters a bit more depth as well as help the audience greater understand Theron’s dismay later on. But instead of showing us a few minutes of what their relationship is like we’re merely told through some trite dialogue between Charlize Theron and Clea Duvall about how great Johnny Depp is. We are also get a scene where Charlize Theron is staring at the sky through the window when Johnny Depp is in space. These things don’t exactly help the audience get invested in the characters. They just stink. I was going to tap out but I kept watching. Why? What’s wrong with me?

So NASA panics because something happens with Johnny Depp and his partner in space, but they return to Earth, changed. Theron notices that Depp has changed somehow and refuses to discuss what happened on their mission. Depp then reveals that he wants to quit and move to New York after accepting an offer to work on weapons for the military or something. Weeks pass and the guy he was in space with dies at a party. Later on, his wife reveals to Theron that her husband was “off” ever since his return and has been communicating with the radio. She then kills herself in a way that’s probably not supposed to be comical but is anyway by electrocuting herself with the radio.

Another issue is the script’s predictability which really hampers the audience’s ability to feel any sort of tension. A few more weeks pass and the couple are living in New York City and Theron is about three weeks pregnant with twins. (Another thing: The scene where the twins are conceived start out at some museum with Theron against the wall with Depp all over her, then the camera moves and suddenly they’re in their bedroom–it’s an interesting way to present this and one of the better uses of cinematic technique the film has.) While Theron is shopping for baby crap, Joe Norton arrives (I somehow remember his name from the credits but not the character’s) clearly disheveled since he’s lost his job at NASA. He tries to show Theron evidence he’s gathered to show that Depp isn’t Depp but some alien-dude but Theron won’t have any of that for it might confirm her suspicions about her husband. While reluctant at first, she decides to have a meeting with him, after a phone conversation where he reveals that Depp’s partner’s wife was also three-weeks pregnant with twins when she died. The audience already knows, at this point, that Joe Norton is going to get fucking killed or disappear and probably leave some other proof for Theron’s character just in case. What makes it slightly creepy, however, is that Joe Norton’s death happens off-screen, as well as Theron’s sister’s death (or we presume she’s dead anyway.) But there’s a lot of scenes that follow an overused formula that most people who watch movies can easily detect. It’s okay to use a formula, but what matters is that it’s done smartly so that the audience forgets and focuses on the characters instead of plot convention.

Anyway, Norton’s dead and leaves a tape for Theron to find. He tells her important things or whatever. Then Theron realizes that the twins are evil alien children so she attempts aborting them via pills. Depp finds out and she tumbles down some steps. She wakes up in the hospital then later-on dreams about her sister getting killed by Depp. She then flees with Depp following her. She finally makes it back home with Depp right on her. She blocks the door, but when Depp finally breaks in he finds her in the kitchen with the radio in the sink with the faucet running, and her holding the plug-in. It seems like she’s about to kill herself and the alien-babies, so Depp tries to get her to stop (one thing I forgot to mention is that Depp is clearly and evil alien person and not Theron’s husband anymore, despite the possible ambiguity my retelling might suggest.) Then the whole place starts to flood as Theron, whilst Depp was trying to break-in, had started running the bath tub and every faucet in the house. Depp is underneath water raining from the ceiling then Theron sits up on the stool, making sure her feet don’t touch the water and plugs the radio in, electrocuting Depp which forces the bad CGI ethereal goop that’s supposed to be the alien out of his body. The alien, in desperation, enters Theron and possesses her. Jump to a few years later and the twins and kids going to school with a new father. Theron then says something about how they’re going to be pilots or whatever. Aliens.

Now, even though it goes against convention with the bad guys winning, this ending blows. There’s the silliness with turning on all of the faucets and bath tub. But what if Depp gave-up and left? Theron would have looked pretty silly with all that water running. And plus it just seems like a weird fucking plan to just electrocute Johnny Depp. Another issue is how did Theron (now controlled by the alien) manage to get out of that situation? The home is flooded and there’s a dead guy on the floor. Did she make it look like a suicide? Does that mean she cleaned-up all the water as well because if her husband was going to off himself why would he turn on every faucet? Why did I watch this movie?

It’s not like the movie had a bad premise. It’s basically about a woman who, at first, is reveling in her perfect life with the perfect husband, but then she has to deal with her husband as she realizes something within him has changed. The movie could have also used some more ambiguity. Like maybe it isn’t all that clear what the deal is with Depp. Maybe he could have just been traumatized by something in space and can’t talk about his wife with it, like he’s trying to cope with shell-shock and remain stoic. Subtlety could have also been to the script’s benefit as well as a less reliance on formula. All the elements were there to make the movie pretty good, but it’s the script that failed to coalesce everything. So I would not be recommending The Astronaut Farmer’s Wife. It’s too predictable and boring and Charlize Theron isn’t very sexy in it, unless you’re into dancing preggos. Yeah, there’s a scene where she’s pregnant and dancing to some music on the radio. I’m not sure why, but I think it was to include a cheap “scare” when Johnny Depp suddenly appears, startled Charlize Theron. This movie sucks–thanks for reading!