‘Spaceman’ Review A Sombre Adam Sandler Drifts In Space In This Muddled Drama

Sandler has a therapy session with a Nutella loving giant spider…

In recent years, Adam Sandler has begun to garner recognition for his dramatic acting prowess, evident in films like the sports drama Hustle and notably Uncut Gems. The latter received high praise, with many tipping him for an Oscar nod, although it didn’t materialize. Nonetheless, his performance was fantastic.

In Spaceman, Sandler once again dons his dramatic pants, along with his spacesuit. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with his acting—it’s a decent performance—the film itself falls short due to its utter blandness. It fails to make any significant progress, leaving unanswered questions and lacking a satisfying conclusion.

Image Credit: Netflix

The film serves more as a study of human loneliness and relationships, exploring the absolute need for connection and the psychological effects of prolonged isolation. It’s this aspect that ultimately salvages Spaceman and makes it watchable.

Sandler plays Jakub Prochazka, a Czech astronaut embarking on a solo mission to investigate an anomaly in our solar system. This anomaly, dubbed the ‘Chopra cloud,’ is a fluorescent dust cloud that has emerged near Jupiter and has been visible in Earth’s sky for the past four years.

We first meet Jakub 189 days into his journey, on the brink of approaching the ‘Chopra cloud.’ He appears visibly worn, sporting a shaggy beard, a slightly pallid complexion, and dark, exhausted eyes. Jakub has left behind his pregnant wife, Lenka (Carey Mulligan), the couple are grappling with marital issues exacerbated by his latest mission.

Despite his physical weariness, Jakub participates in a public video conference with mission control, where Commissioner Tuma (Isabella Rossellini) interviews him about the mission. He answers various questions from curious children, maintaining a seemingly upbeat and focused demeanor. However, it doesn’t take long for us to realize that his mental state is quite the opposite. When alone, Jakub appears exhausted, kept awake at night by a malfunctioning waste collection system. The combination of sleep deprivation and lack of communication with his wife is visibly taking its toll on his mental well-being.

Image Credit: Netflix

This is where we meet Hanus, a 5-foot extraterrestrial spider who promptly assures Jakub that he means him no harm and has no intention of “consuming” him. Hanus introduces himself as an interstellar traveler. Initially panicked, Jakub questions his own mental state, but Hanus reassures him once again. Hanus is voiced by Paul Dano, who delivers his lines with a calm, somber, whispering voice, adding to the eerie yet comforting atmosphere of their encounter.

Mulligan’s Lenka feels under-written, as we don’t fully witness the depth of her emotions or struggles beyond Jakub’s flashbacks of the early stages of their relationship. We gather that she, too, is grappling with feelings of abandonment, but the script doesn’t allow for a deeper exploration of her character’s internal turmoil and growth.

Image Credit: Netflix

Spaceman suffers from a lack of identity, struggling to find its focus. It’s unclear whether it aims to be a relationship drama, a space exploration mystery, or a profound exploration of our human nature. As a result, it leaves you feeling disconnected from the narrative. There’s also a notable absence of comic relief throughout the film, although there is one scene where the giant interstellar spider discovers Nutella, which may elicit a chuckle.

The space scenes lack a sense of awe, there’s a lack of closure to Jakub and Lenka’s relationship, the storyline feels unresolved and muddled. At its best, the film can be viewed as an exploration of extreme human isolation. Jakub, under immense stress, finds solace in the unexpectedly competent therapist Hanus, who helps him navigate his troubles and becomes a much-needed friend. Their relationship blurs the lines of reality, but in the end it becomes irrelevant whether Hanus is real or not.

Spaceman is available now on Netflix.

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