189 days after leaving planet Earth, Czech Commander Jakub Procházka (Adam Sandler) is approaching the goal of his mission on the outskirts of Jupiter, to gather material from the Chopra Cloud.  Commissioner Tuma (Isabella Rossellini) invites viewers back home to ask him a question and a young girl, Anna, asks if he is the loneliest man in the world.  Jakub says no, but he is desperate to hear from his wife, Lenka (Carey Mulligan), whose latest message announcing she is leaving him was intercepted by Tuma.  Jakub will be guided into some heavy soul searching by an unexpected stowaway who wants to help the “Spaceman.”

Laura's Review: B

If the idea of a Czech/South Korean space race and a lone astronaut assigned to such a long-haul mission seems implausible, just indulge director Johan Renck (HBO's 'Chernobyl,' David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ videos) a little longer, as screenwriter Colby Day’s adaptation of Jaroslav Kalfar's book 'Spaceman of Bohemia' isn’t really a science fiction story.  Instead it is a character study of a man who must psychoanalyze his rationale for continually leaving that which he loves the most.  And if he does so with the aid of a giant spider, which he names Hanuš (voice of Paul Dano), rest assured that Sandler and Dano make this a singular cinematic relationship, one that might even move you to tears.

While we know that the expectant Lenka has decided to leave him, Jakub can only intuit that something back home is very wrong.  We can read the worry on his exhausted looking face as his control contact, Petr ('The Big Bang Theory's' Kunal Nayyar), tells him his priority is to fix broken cameras rather than the noisy toilet keeping him awake.  Petr worries about Jakub’s mental state and covers for Lenka’s absence by telling him her CzechConnect is being worked on and she’s gone to visit her mother (Lena Olin).  Then Jakub sees something very disturbing in his spacecraft, causing Petr to ask why he’s shut himself in the airlock.  Jakub demands the ship be decontaminated, but the rich yellow gas dispersed doesn’t remove his visitor, a spider the size of a German Shepherd.

Renck unfolds his tale slowly, cutting between Jakub’s conversations with the spider he comes to trust with flashbacks to the story he tells it while also following Lenka’s journey from unburdening herself to her mother to traveling to the retreat for single pregnant women in the woods where she hopes to find peace.  Cinematographer Jakob Ihre’s ("Thelma," HBO's 'Chernobyl') dreamy, floating camerawork conveys Jakub’s memories of his and Lenka’s love story with lenses that distort the images to resemble the whorls of the Chopra Cloud.  His reminisces of his father Ladislav (Marian Roden), the root of the guilt he feels he must atone for, are more horrific, slaughtered pigs and burning buildings the stuff of nightmares.  Overt symbolism conveys Jakub’s avoidance of what we will learn was Lenka’s first pregnancy, a miscarriage she suffered while he had, once before, left her alone.

At first, Sandler seems stiff, his enunciation that of a man speaking to someone unfamiliar with his language, but as he begins to engage more in conversation, first with Petr, then Hanuš, a more soulful, introspective performance emerges.  Dano’s calm, monotone speech brings Hanuš, a furry spider with six eyes designed by Carlos Huante (“Arrival”) (VFX and animation supervised by Matt Sloan and Brett Purmal), to lovable life, a wise creature from the beginning of time, an origin Jakub seeks in the Cloud.  Mulligan portrays Lenka alternately as a free spirit in romantic flashbacks and a woman empowered to move on in the current day.

“Spaceman” can be viewed literally, as a hallucinatory dream or something in between.  It is a love story that takes unusual detours on its journey, a distinctive trip for those willing to drift away with it.

Robin's Review: B

We meet Czech cosmonaut Jakub (Adam Sandler) at the halfway point in his one-year solo mission to gather data on the mysterious Chopra Cloud, just past the orbit of Jupiter. The long isolation from home and lack of word from his pregnant wife, Lenka (Carey Mulligan), is taking its toll on him - until he finds an unexpected stowaway on board in “Spaceman.”

OK. Within seconds of the start of “Spaceman,” my first thought was: “What delusional organization would send a solitary person on a year-long mission to deep space?” The answer is no one. That said, the result here is a convincing character study of isolation, loneliness and deprivation by Adam Sandler as Jakub.

The onerous toll of isolation – his only contact with earth is via his mission controller, Commissioner Tuma (Isabella Rossellini), who withholds information about Lenka from her husband – just leads further into his anxiety and loneliness.

Things change when he hears a voice from within the ship. To his horror, he finds a giant (I mean GIANT) spider (voice of Paul Dano) that talks! Once the fear subsides, Jakub finds his new guest to be quite articulate and understanding and this begins a very strange friendship. It is also the cosmonaut’s means of coping with the changes – in space and on earth – in his turbulent life.

Director Johan Renck and scripters Jaroslav Kalfar and Colby Day give us a different kind of sci-fi flick. In this world, space is being conquered not by the US and Russia but by the competing nations of South Korea and the Czech Republic.

This alternate reality places us in Jakub’s hi-tech and lonely world that is disrupted when Hanus (Jakub’s name for the spider) comes on the scene. Suddenly, the aloneness is replaced with a weird companionship and Jakub can cope with his isolation with his new friend.

As we watch Jakub and Hanus interact, talk and bond, I did not wonder if the cosmonaut was indeed crazy. I watched the man cope with his self-imposed isolation in a unique and sometimes moving way. He is losing his past life and, like it or not, moving into a new and unexpected one. It is a fascinating character study and Sandler does it well

Netflix releases "Spaceman" in select theaters on 2/23/24.  It begins streaming on 3/1/24.