(director: Johan Renck; screenwriters: Colby Day/based on the book Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar; cinematographer: Jakob Ihre; editors: John Axelrad, Scott Cummings, Simon Smith; music: Max Richter; cast: Adam Sandler (Jakub Procházka), Carey Mulligan (Lenka), Hanus (Paul Dano-voice), Lena Olin (Zdena), Kunnal Nayyar (Peter), Innead Phelps (Pregnant Woman), Commissioner Tuma (Isabella Rossellini); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Lia Buman, Reid Carolin, Tim Headington, Peter Kiernan, Michael Parets, Max Silva, Channing Tatum; Netflix; 2024)

 “A dreary sci-fi drama on dealing with grief.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dreary sci-fi drama on dealing with grief by Swedish filmmaker Johan Renck (“Downloading Nancy”/”Chernobyl”). The downbeat film is based on the 2017 book Spaceman of Bohemia by the Czech author Jaroslav Kalfar, and is written by Colby Day with great pain to say something important about human suffering that it somehow never manages to say.

The tortured-soul Czech cosmonaut, Jakub Prochazka (Adam Sandler), is 6 months into a research mission solo flight scheduled for a year, to investigate a mysterious purple haze, known as the Chopra Cloud, floating near the outer limits of Jupiter. At this time, his unhappy pregnant wife Lenka (Carey Mulligan) chooses to break-up with him by sending him a video message. But he never receives it, as Jakub’s boss, the mission chief (
Isabella Rossellini), intercepts it fearing he might crack-up from the news.

In zero-gravity surroundings, Jakub can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality, as he begins interacting with a giant spider-like creature he finds on the ship, called Hanuš (voiced by Paul Dano), who may or may not exist.

Jakub is all screwed-up emotionally since childhood, which might be because he’s ashamed his father was an informant for the Communist Party. But then it forgets about this political message it sends.

Instead it sets a turbulent mood in the claustrophobic setting of outer space, and we’re left hanging on how his inner psychological trip and his intergalactic trip both turn out.

The pic
fails to embrace its promising premise, as it’s stuck at being neither a good self-discovery drama nor an enjoyable space travel pic.