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Spaceman review: Adam Sandler stars in surreal sci-fi drama

Adam Sandler is mostly associated with lowbrow comedy, but that may be changing. Incredible performances in dramas like Uncut Gems and Hustle have left film fans hungry for more serious work from the actor, and they will get their wish with surreal sci-fi drama Spaceman.

He plays Jakub, a solo astronaut on a mission to the furthest reaches of solar system to collect an unknown material. Lonely, and with his marriage crumbling, he questions his sanity when an alien shaped like a giant spider (voiced by Paul Dano) comes aboard and offers him guidance.

Films about Astronauts resolving personal issues have been done before, but this manages to find a unique spin on that formula. Combining the inflection of Doug Jones’ Moon with the sentiment of 2013’s Gravity, director Johan Renck counterbalances concept’s oddness with a tender, human story. The sight of a tired-looking Sandler having a therapy session with a Nutella-obsessed spider is one of the most unusual things you’ll see this year, but through this comes something that touches your heart.

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Sandler works in the role without changing too much about himself. He shines as an ordinary man seeking something extraordinary in the stars, only to realise his dream is back on Earth. Carey Mulligan is the story’s emotional heartbeat as his wife, shown mostly in flashback, while former sitcom star Kunal Nayyar is terrific as Peter, the equally tired technician on the ground in charge of Jakub’s welfare. Dano’s hushed, sensitive tones give life to the giant arachnid who calls Jakub “Skinny Human”. By the film’s tear-jerking finale, he will have clung firmly to your heart.

Spaceman shows that while he may have made his fortune with laughs, Sandler is far better at making us feel something deeper. More of this, please.

Spaceman is in cinemas now, and on Netflix from 1st March.