If the title didn't strike you as too on the nose already, let me tell you that the movie literally starts with Lucy, well, in the sky. (Whispers to date: "That's Lucy and she's in the sky.") But unlike, say, Ad Astra, this is not a "space weepie" because it doesn't really take place in space, nor does it succeed in making you weep at the mysteries of existence. Lucy's mission ends after those first few moments and she returns to her life in Texas with her dorky husband who works for NASA PR (Dan Stevens, playing Ned Flanders). Immediately, Lucy seems different. Space is her drug, and she just can't wait to get back there. She focuses entirely on the next chance to get in a rocket. Distraction comes in the form of a sexy fellow astronaut named Mark Goodwin, played by Jon Hamm, who was born to play "sexy fellow astronaut." She gets way too invested; he's a jerk, flirting with another colleague (Zazie Beetz); and she starts to spiral, which is where the whole kidnapping road trip comes in.
Here are some other things that happen in Lucy in the Sky: Hamm drunkenly watches footage of the Challenger exploding on repeat; Ellen Burstyn says the words "astronaut dick;" a cover of the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky" plays while Lucy, not in the sky, glides through a hospital as she were Madonna in the "Ray of Light" video. Also, a couple of other film writers and I were chatting after the screening and realized we had no idea when any of this takes place.
Hawley executes this narrative with the fervor of a freshman in film school who wants to use every cool trick he knows in one assignment. In the early half of the film the aspect ratio shifts so much I thought I was getting seasick. I'd assume Hawley was trying to mimic Lucy's fractured state of mind and simulate how the world is closing in on her with this technique, but it's just nauseating.