Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Film Review: The Midnight Sky (Netflix)


Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

Here is another short review for a movie I meant to write about earlier.

The Midnight Sky is a story about Augustine (George Clooney), a dying man at an arctic research station.  Some mysterious disaster is killing the entire planet.  Everyone else at the station has left to seek some kind of refuge or to be with their families.  Augustine sees no point to try and escape and instead accepts his fate while slowly counting down the days to his and Earth's demise.  But two things interrupt his plans:

First, a little girl name Iris (Caoilinn Springall) has been left behind at the station and he is unable to reach anyone to rescue her.  Second, A manned space mission to Jupiter's inhabitable moon is returning to Earth, unaware of the plague awaiting them.  The crew, led by Sully (Felicity Jones) feel an increasing sense of unease as they approach, but do not know what to make of things.  Augustine tries to reach them, but his radio is not powerful enough.  There is another, more power relay at a science station across the dangerous arctic plains.  So Augustine and Iris race against time to warn the crew.

The movie is incredibly well directed.  Clooney is very talented both in front of the camera and in the director's seat.  He is able to convey a great deal of emotion and tone with his visuals.  Augustine's world is sterile and bleak.  Clooney makes you feel his sickness, his despair, and every ounce of his determination.  This was one of his best performances in years as a man who tries to find just enough hope to go on.  It is almost inspiring to see him not go quietly into that good night.

The movie has two main problems.  The first is that it is too bleak.  Even if Augustine is able to save his crew, there is still an overwhelming sense that humanity is doomed.  The second is that the plot can only sustain a much shorter movie.  This would have been an amazing Twilight Zone episode, but as a feature film it feels stretched too thin.  This is especially true of the scenes on the space craft.  Everything the characters do feels like unecessary padding to the run time.  And unfortunately Jones cannot carry scenes the way that Clooney can.  Springall does well as a child actress and is able to hold her own in scenes with Clooney.

With a script that matched the level of the directing and performance that Clooney gives, this movie would have been a real treat.  Instead, it is a decent if unspectacular film.

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