The Midnight Sky released on Netflix this month, and quickly shot into the platform’s ‘trending’ category.
The reason why is hardly a mystery.
Visually striking and with a bankable star (and director) in George Clooney, The Midnight Sky feels something like a bitter joke at the expense of 2020.
Three weeks after an unspecified event has ravaged the Earth’s atmosphere, humankind is dying out bit by bit. One of the last survivors is Augustine (Clooney), a man with a terminal illness who stays behind after the evacuation of his Arctic observatory in order to warn returning astronauts away from the now hostile planet.
With plenty of desolate, icy landscape on display and the crushing quiet of solitude (the latter being something we’ve all become accustomed to in one way or another this year), Augustine sets about waiting for the astronauts’ ship, the Æther, to come into range for transmission.
Things are complicated by the appearance of a mute child, a young girl that Augustine dubs Iris. Suddenly responsible for a child – as well as his own medical treatment in order to stave off his imminent death – Augustine must do whatever it takes to save the astronauts’ lives.
It’s a bleak movie, and it’ll likely leave you feeling heavy with the despair that only a good apocalypse tale can inspire, but that isn’t to say it’s not worth watching.
Scene by scene, we gain glimpses into Augustine’s character and his past, and there’s plenty of tension and suspense as the events of the movie continue to unfold.
The half of the movie set in space is as impressive as those set in the Arctic Circle. The Æther’s tight-knit crew of astronauts are all desperate to get home after a long mission, but begin to feel uneasy when they can’t seem to get a response from Earth.
There’s not a single performance in the movie that doesn’t feel genuine, and that goes a long way towards lending The Midnight Sky the credibility lacking due to the holes in its narrative.
For a movie that raises so many questions throughout its runtime, only a few of them are wrapped up by its climax. It seems to be a film that revels in its ambiguity, all but slapping you in the face with your lack of context for everything that’s happening. Yes, most of it can be puzzled out by careful viewing and a little common sense, but it’s still frustrating for a movie as sleek and interesting as The Midnight Sky to ring so hollow in a narrative sense.
All in all, it’s a good watch. Clooney is on fine form as actor/director, and solid performances from the movie’s relatively small cast cement the movie’s place as one of 2020’s better offerings. There are a few small issues in the presentation of the overall story, but nothing that ruins the journey The Midnight Sky will take you on.
Summary: A movie that is at once ambitious and toned-down, The Midnight Sky says a lot without really saying anything at all, but it’s still well worth the ride it’ll take you on through humanity’s dying days.