Spaceman (2024) Berlinale 2024

February 21st, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Johan Renck | Cast: Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, Kunal Nayyar, Lena Olin, Isabella Rossellini | USA 2024 | English, Czech, Korean, Subtitles: English, German | 106′

Are long-distance relationships sustainable? It’s a valid question, and one that US director Johan Renck ponders in this Berlinale Special Gala outing.

Spaceman is a strange, discombobulating film that tries to meld sci-fi with romantic drama and fails, despite the poignant efforts of stars Carey Mulligan, Adam Sandler and a hairy little creature called Hanuš, who has six eyes but a heart in the right place.

Based on the absurdist novel “Spaceman of Bohemia” by the Czech writer Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman explores how leaving a lover alone for too long can lead to negative navel-gazing and how – with a little help from our friends – we can put things into perspective. Or at least that’s the idea here.

Swirling around the edge of the solar system astronaut Jakub (a glum Adam Sandler) is on a distant six-month space mission away from his wife Lenka (Mulligan), expecting their first child. The two talk every day – on a special live link – but Lenka feels lonely and isolated and is on brink of ending it all despite her love for Jakub – shown in frequent flashbacks as she dances Terrence Malick style through flowery fields – and some persuasiveness on the part of her mother (Olin). Jakub senses the emotional distance between them when the phone line goes dead because his messages have been put on hold by Mission Control, headed by Isabella Rossellini (in cameo).

Then a gentle alien being enters his spaceship and the two settle into a chummy co-existence (after Jakub tries to kill the beast). There is much to enjoy here if you like purple nimbus cloud formations and Carey Mulligan – although she is sadly underused in this forgettable space oddity @Meredith Taylor  



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