The Astronaut's Wife

Actually very well made and acted
★★★
☆
Released: 
1999
Director: 
Rand Ravich
Starring: 
Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron
The Setup: 
Thinly-veiled retread of Rosemary’s Baby with Charlize Theron doing the Mia Farrow bit (including the haircut), and aliens instead of the devil.
Discussion: 

I liked it! It’s slow, it’s hypnotic and trippy, but be warned: it has no ending. You know my theory about how only the first 2/3rds of a movie are interesting? This film runs with that. It is all about tension and atmosphere, so lay back and enjoy that, because there is NO PAYOFF WHATSOEVER. You never find out what the aliens are really up to, no one wins in the end, nothing is resolved. You have to be prepared for the fact that the build-up and tension IS the movie.

This movie has some very creepy and unnerving scenes, which I would say were similar to the tone of the first 3/4 of The Sixth Sense. With this movie you have to be prepared to follow the subtle changes in tone and atmosphere, and just go where they take you. I found the entire sequence where Charlize Theron initially finds out that something has happened on the shuttle to be very creepy. In fact much of the movie is very unnerving and slightly surreal, exploring the more sinister aspects of the idea that someone's DNA has merged with yours and now there's some new organism growing in your body.

I basically went to see this because I like Johnny Depp and thought [this is pre-Secret Window] that he wouldn't purposely do a movie that was just stupid. His performance is very convincing, as usual. He's very cocky and sexy toward the beginning, in particular. I also think Charlize Theron is a VERY good actress [and this was pre-Monster], and she proves that again here. Yes, this is another version of the role she played in Devil's Advocate, but I suspect that the director saw how good she was in that and wanted her to essentially redo it for this. I think people who don't respect her acting are speaking out of the sexist idea that a woman who is that beautiful cannot possibly be talented.

If you like very carefully controlled tension and great horror atmospherics, I would suggest you see this film. If you're looking for something along the lines of Species with slightly better actors, you're out of luck.

Should you watch it: 

Yes, just realize that it’s all well-done suspense and creepy atmospherics and no payoff.

RELATED MOVIES:
ROSEMARY'S BABY did it first and did it better, but you've seen that, haven't you? Please tell me you've seen that.

Comments

The movie does drop enough hints that you can figure out the alien plan, if you manage to catch all of them. It turns out that the aliens are actually electrical signals that possess you. They shoot themselves out into space as radio waves, hoping to hit on a planet with life intelligent enough to be worth possessing. On Earth their plan is to hijack the military's electronic-warfare planes and use them to broadcast clones of themselves, thereby possessing every human on the planet.

Got none of that from the movie, but, now we know! I just liked the style of the whole thing...