The Astronaut's Wife

Directed by Rand Ravich
Starring: Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron, Joe Morton, Blair Brown.
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and a strong scene of sexuality.

Review by Matt Heffernan
August 27, 1999

What do you get when you combine Rosemary's Baby and Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Let's just say that it doesn't equal the sum of its parts.

Astronauts Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp) and Alex Streck (Nick Cassavettes) lose contact with NASA for two minutes while deploying a satellite. There was an explosion, and the shuttle is brought back down. When they return to earth, Spencer decides to leave the service to work for a aerospace firm in New York. His wife, Jillian (Charlize Theron) is concerned about her husband after Streck suddenly dies, and his wife kills herself by taking a bath with a radio.

In New York, Jillian finds out that she is pregnant with twins, but she is not entirely happy. Spencer has been acting different, and her suspicions become greater when she is visited by former NASA agent Sherman Reese (Joe Morton). He tries to convince her that Spencer is no longer his old self, but was replaced by another being. What is a girl to do?

The story of The Astronaut's Wife is terribly familiar, simply a marriage of the two films mentioned above. This film does manage to generate a fair amount of suspense, but nothing compared to its ascendents. Every step in the story seems to play out in a very predictable manner. It is somewhat comforting to get what you expect, but that's not the point of this kind of film.

The cast is a good selection, including Blair Brown, who plays the wife of Spencer's boss, who seems to sympathize with Jillian's situation. They all give it their best shot, but it's just not good material. Depp is much better when working for Tim Burton, which we will thankfully have the opportunity to see again in Sleepy Hollow. For now, he just sort of puts on a southern accent and reads the lines.

The film itself doesn't really have a surprise ending, but my particular screening did. The last reel was dubbed in French, followed by the credits in French. It didn't ruin anything, but actually made it more interesting. Unfortunately, I don't think your local theater will have the same happy accident. Anyway, at least I got to see it for free.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Astronaut's Wife (1999)

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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan