George Clooney’s The Midnight Sky Now Streaming On Netflix
Written By Matthew Sadowski
The new Netflix movie The Midnight Sky, directed by and starring George Clooney, has an ideal premise for our times. A film about learning to care for others during an isolation period as the air outside becomes more and more unbreathable, you might say hits close to home as 2020 winds down.
In the year 2049, a mysterious disaster known only as The Event occurs in multiple places around the globe, slowly contaminating Earth and rendering human life impossible. Augustine (George Clooney), an old and bitter astronomer, has been living on an Arctic research base alone after the other personnel and their families evacuated. Augustine is slowly dying anyway, so he chooses to stay by himself and wait for The Event to take him. However, his plans for a lonely death are interrupted by both the discovery of Iris (Caoilinn Springall), a mute little girl forgotten in the chaotic evacuation, and the realization that the Aether, a spaceship returning home from Jupiter, is oblivious of the danger awaiting its crew (featuring Felicity Jones and David Oyelowo). As Augustine races further north to a communications station, he must keep himself alive in an Arctic hellscape long enough to save both the girl and the astronauts.
The scenes with Augustine and the girl are by far the most absorbing, at times feeling like scenes from the frightening father/son post-apocalypse film The Road. Clooney frequently lets the camera linger on the emptiness of Augustine’s formerly bustling compound and the vast wastes that surround it. His thick white beard and mournful eyes become landscapes in themselves, betraying the human compassion beneath an otherwise dead exterior.
Sadly, the Aether scenes simply cannot match the emotional weight and immediacy of Augustine’s quest. Aether’s interior is incredibly spacious and clearly designed for comfort, something that makes the possibility of being stranded in it much less existentially frightening to the audience. Besides a dangerous spacewalk, the crew is never exposed to the elements, and their immediate safety never truly seems jeopardized.
The Midnight Sky is not at all a bad movie, it just bounces back and forth seemingly between two movies, one more compelling than the other. We can be relatively certain that the Aether will reach Earth eventually, but not that Augustine will contact them in time. The movie simply spends too much time on what is certain.
The Midnight Sky
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Caoilinn Springall
Streaming on: Netflix
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