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‘Spaceman’ lands on Netflix today

A Czech astronaut is confronted by a talking spidery alien during his mission in this sci-fi drama movie.

In the movie Spaceman, a Czech astronaut on a solitary mission to the edges of the solar system is visited by a mysterious spider-like creature. 

As Jakub the spaceman reaches the six-month mark in his cosmic journey, he grapples with the realisation that his marriage might not await his return to Earth. He is eager to mend things with his wife Lenka, who remains on Earth, and finds help from an unexpected quarter. 

Jakub engages with the creature Hanuš who was previously hidden within the spacecraft. Startlingly, the alien arachnid offers its help to remedy the astronaut’s emotional distress on the lonely spaceship. 

Together, they work to unravel the issues in Jakub’s relationship with Lenka before it’s too late.

Adam Sandler takes on the main role in a departure from his usual comedic repertoire, and Jakub’s wife is played by Carey Mulligan. The cast includes Kunal Nayyar as technician Peter and Isabella Rossellini as Commissioner Tuma, Jakub’s commanding officer.

Director Johan Renck says: “I really wanted to have a performance from him that had nothing to do with the Adam Sandler we all know. I don’t think people understand how [although] he may come across as funny and sweet and all that, he’s very intelligent, really smart, profound.”

Hanuš is voiced by Okja star Paul Dano. “Paul was the first thing that came up in thinking about [the creature],” says Renck. “He has this peculiar cadence when he’s speaking, his careful formulation of words, and his very unique voice.”

The movie is based on Jaroslav Kalfař’s novel Spaceman of Bohemia. For Kalfař, this cosmic tale had humble origins.  He says: “Spaceman began as a short story that I wrote in my last year of college. Originally, it was just a punch line about an American astronaut who was stranded in orbit when he received a call from his wife asking for a divorce.” 

As Kalfař expanded it into a full-length novel, the story grew into one of love, space, time, and the author’s own Czech family.

Sandler, in his portrayal of a Czech astronaut, delved into Kalfař’ heritage during quarantine, engaging in extensive conversations about Czech history and culture.

The film premiered at the 74th Berlin International Film Festival as part of the “Berlinale Special” programme before its Netflix release. The sci-fi drama starts streaming on Netflix today (1 March 2024).

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