In 1930s France, two sisters (Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp) who perform as supernatural mediums cross paths with a visionary film producer.
Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp star in this eerie wonder from visionary French director Rebecca Zlotowski (Grand Central). A film about speaking to spirits and crafting grand spectacles, Planetarium is itself an otherworldly spectacle — one that lures us into a seductive twilight realm of mystery and secrets.
Returning to one of the themes that distinguished her remarkable 2010 directorial debut, Belle épine, Zlotowski gives us in Planetarium another story of young women seeking to define themselves on their own terms.
The setting is Paris in the 1930s, where two sisters, American spiritualists Laura (Portman, who also appears at this year's Festival in Jackie) and Kate Barlow (Depp), are winding up a world tour. Seemingly adept at communicating with the dead, the women are somewhat less experienced with the business of the living. Nevertheless, their astonishing exhibit of apparently supernatural powers piques the interest of powerful French film producer André Korben (Emmanuel Salinger), who retains their strange talents for his wildly ambitious new film project. Laura and Kate are soon swept up in a scheme that, fusing art and the occult, portends a dark shadow soon to be cast over all of Europe.
Zlotowski's sensitivity to the experience of her female characters is complemented by the performances of her bewitching leads — Portman hasn't displayed such an alluring dark side since Black Swan, and Depp channels her character like a spiritual medium.
Lyrical and dreamlike, Planetarium immerses us in a world where, as with cinema itself, reality and illusion intermingle until it's nearly impossible to discern between the two.
Roy Thomson Hall
Isabel Bader Theatre