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The Astronaut's Wife


The Astronaut's Wife

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Unlike The Devil's Advocate, which starred Charlize Theron as the wife of a lawyer whose soul might belong to the devil, The Astronaut's Wife stars Theron as the wife of an astronaut (Johnny Depp) whose body might belong to a malevolent space alien. Presumably, Theron is on the shortlist for roles in which she gets to look fretful while pondering the possibility her husband may be lost to the supernatural, but the next time such a role comes around, she might consider passing. Depp plays a good-old-boy pilot-turned-astronaut who becomes the subject of great concern following an unexplained incident in space, but not for long. Soon no one cares when he's strangely unaffected by space partner Nick Cassavetes' death, packing up for New York, and listening to what sounds like radio static in the middle of the night. When Theron becomes pregnant, she begins to suspect that something strange is going on, perhaps because she's surrounded by strange, extremely slow-moving goings-on set to ominous music. First-time director Rand Ravich periodically interrupts his film with showy first-time-director tricks, none of which are particularly impressive, but the majority of The Astronaut's Wife seems to take its inspiration from the eerie solemnity of space, making it the most boring film that could conceivably have been made with Johnny Depp and space-babies. Despite a few intriguing moments that are never developed, it plays like a direct-to-video movie to which a studio executive absentmindedly assigned a budget and a name cast. It's profoundly silly stuff, particularly during moments in which Depp discusses his designs for a superplane, but the fact that it spends most of its time placing a pregnant Theron in jeopardy makes it kind of creepily cheap, as well. Of course, Rosemary's Baby, Wife's obvious inspiration, did the same thing with Mia Farrow, but that movie worked. Thirty years later, its own misbegotten stepchild doesn't fare nearly so well.