Do you have the same problem watching old, duff movies on TV of a late night that I do? The badly-titled The Astronaut’s Wife is a sci-fi take on the equally hystrionic and ludicrous Polanski classic Rosemary’s Baby, right down to Charlize Theron’s ghastly copy of Mia Farrow’s blond crop.
When unlikely astronaut Johnny Depp, complete with Bowie-style blond coif, returns from a near-fatal shuttle mission a changed man, wife Theron begins to suspect he is literally not the same man who went into space. When she falls pregnant with twins and her history of depression is revealed, we get to watch her breakdown in close-up…
The Astronaut’s Wife is a well-executed thriller for the first half and it’s technical prowess never falters throughout. There is some excellent editing of sequences which may be dreams, delusions or ESP. However Rand Ravich’s misplaced and derivative screenplay is all tension and suspense. It blows it’s chance to be another Sixth Sense by revealing it’s Rosemary’s Baby/Species plot half way, leaving Depp little to do but stare and growl threats. There are two neat twists in the the well-staged ending, but the epilogue finishes much the same as any TV episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Like a rich but insubstantial dessert, the movie fails to satisfy.
Depp, in that middle period of Fear and Loathing‘, Sleepy Hollow and the attrocious Ninth Gate, gets to play handsome and sinister, but despite being principal ‘villain’ and cypher, Depp is more absent than his character is written. It is Charlize Theron’s movie, a well-acted turn of fear and distress, post her Devil’s Advocate beleaguered wife, pre- Oscar turn in Monster. Always watchable, why does she keep picking such awful movies (Aeon Flux, The Italian Job?). RC
Release Date: August 27, 1999
Genre: Sci-Fi, Suspense
Director: Rand Ravich
Writer: Rand Ravich
Cast: Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron, Tom Noonan, Donna Murphy, Joe Morton, Clea DuVall
Studio: New Line Cinema
Running Time: 109 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language, and a strong scene of sexuality.