Astronaut's Wife [1999]

An intriguingly creepy premise but failed execution marks this stylish and ultimately bland thriller about a pretty, young woman whose pretty, young astronaut husband comes back from his most recent space mission a little... odd. Before that fated space trip, Spencer (Johnny Depp) and Jillian (Charlize Theron) were a sunny, happy couple with matching blonde hairdos and a predilection for romping in the sack from extremely clever camera angles. However, after a communications blackout brings Spencer and his partner back down to earth prematurely, things are a little... peculiar. Spencer's partner goes bonkers and has a heart attack; on top of that, the partner's wife takes a fatal shower with a plugged-in radio. Getting out of the space biz, Spencer accepts a job as a corporate exec in New York, and as a welcome to the Big Apple for his comely wife, he molests her at the company cocktail party. Soon enough, Jillian is pregnant, but as you might expect, this pregnancy (twins, don't you know) is a little... unusual. Writer-director Rand Ravich takes his sweet time getting from extremely obvious plot point A to even more obvious plot point B, stretching out the development particulars in mind-numbing, suspense-killing fashion. Even Joe Morton, as a sinisterly psychotic NASA official, can't liven things up--you know you're in bad thriller territory when the biggest scare comes from a light suddenly being switched off. Theron, sporting a Mia Farrow-Rosemary's Baby haircut, sleepwalks beautifully through the movie, but she did this role much, much better in The Devil's Advocate. Depp, with a cornpone Southern accent, is about as realistic as his peroxided hair. Ravich does the viewer no favors with a hackneyed ending straight out of a B-grade paperback horror novel in which the most shocking moment is Theron's sudden emergence as a brunette. With Blair Brown as a jaded socialite who offers to help out Theron by providing do-it-yourself abortion pills, and a lovely Donna Murphy as the suicidal wife who figures it all out before everyone else. --Mark Englehart

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