Yesterday, whilst discussing delightmares, I posited (in regards to Steven Knight, but the sentiment applies to many of my faves) that artists adventurous enough to swing for the fences will inevitably whiff a few at-bats.
A performance in theaters right now reaffirms this generalization: Lucy in the Sky’s Natalie Portman.
Her past two turns (Endgame‘s cameo doesn’t count) showcase the Portmandia Cinematic Experiment in a nutshell: from a career-pinnacle in last year’s Vox Lux to this nadir.
(Speaking of nuts: both characters have a tenuous grip on reality).
In the wrong hands, or matched with the wrong material, or surrounded by a world inhospitable to her stylistic gifts, Portman’s increasingly-signature, fully-embodied theatricality can look like she’s doing waaaay tooooooo muuuuuuuch. And Noah Hawley’s hands — he of TV Fargo fame (quick: name five 21st-century showrunners besides Jordan Peele who successfully transitioned from the boob tube to the big screen. I’ll wait) — prove incapable (at least here) of channeling her over-the-topness in service of the movie. She’s basically flailing about, desperate for support.
Thematically: on point.