Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp take on the role of sisters able to communicate with the unknown in “Planatarium,” leading them to become the center of attention from filmmaking vultures. However, the bond between these sisters is not something you can add special effects to for a movie. Ironically, “Planetarium” is filled with historical context and a bond between sisters, but no actual connection to its title. The end result, is a confusing one.
With a title like “Planetarium,” one would assume a sort of sci-fi galaxy flick, which this film is not. Audience members will be completely thrown off by the title already. Audience members will expect a supernatural being or even a crappy invisible string levitating a table off the ground, which you won’t find in this film. What you will find is intriguing character development and an inside look at the men working in the industry and their effect on women.
Set in Paris in 1930s American sisters Laura (Natalie Portman) and Kate Barlow (Lily-Rose Depp) touring through Europe, performing their act. Kate who actually does the communication, while older sister Laura is the manager. The girls meet Andre Koben (Emmanuel Salinger) a movie producer requesting a private session, which he becomes quite fond of.
Portman’s role resembled a similar one in the film “Black Swan,” the character wanting perfection and fame brought back moment of “This is just like in blank” and “Isn’t she in blank?” She loses sight of what’s important and what she wants in life towards the end (of course). These two films literally could have been shot in the same year, Portman does not age a day in her life.
Depp is on her way to having a successful career. She’s appeared in another French drama “The Dancer.” Her presence was fresh and new, something audience members have never seen before and can’t refer to her as another actress. Depp has a spot in the drama-filled genre.
Beautifully shot in France, cinematographer Georges Lechaptois captured 1930s France perfectly to give the audience a taste of the vintage décor. What made the film stand out- besides its cinematography- was the score. In any foreign film, you get the glimpse- every so often- of the strings from a violin, where every dramatic scene needs its high pitch violin. Another feature in the score was its jazzy piano tunes playing. Roaming through Paris, with the lovely breeze from the fall season and the soft tempo of the piano accompanying it, will put audience members at ease.
The film also displays how men working in the movie industry have this ability all of a sudden to control women’s actions, especially during the time period, which seems fairly accurate to the industry today. The movie industry or any industry, go to lengths to try to consume a person to a point they’re not even recognizable to themselves anymore- a theme thoroughly developed over the course of this drama.
While the film had a strong list of talent, the plot did not deliver on its acting expectations. The film had a foreign director with an outstanding cast, what could possibly go wrong?
Simply put, there are high expectations- mainly because of the cast. For those who don’t care for the historical content, that doesn’t play a huge role in the film. The war (World War II) is mentioned, but not enough to remember that the entire country is at war, they’re just making a movie. French is spoken 80% of the time, during scene the audience will have moments of “Wait…what?”
It doesn’t help that there are several head-scratchers and unsolved questions throughout the film. At times, because of this, the film appears to be unfinished. The ending scene is the beginning scene; it’s a touch of foreshadowing, but it doesn’t seem to connect at all. It just feels flat. Also, during the final scene will only leave you with more questions. Had this been fleshed out more, “Planetarium” could have been a far better film.
In the end, while it has strong acting performances and cinematography and direction, the development of the plot and misleading title make it a film you’ll have to take a chance on. It’s far from than a sure thing.
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