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Midnight Sky, The

Entry updated 21 May 2021. Tagged: Film.

Film (2020). Netflix and Anonymous Content present a Smokehouse Pictures, Syndicate Entertainment and Truenorth Productions production. Directed by George Clooney. Written by Mark L Smith, based on Good Morning, Midnight (2016) by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Cast includes Tiffany Boone, Kyle Chandler, George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Ethan Peck and Caoilinn Springall. 122 minutes. Colour.

An Arctic Scientist at the End of the World contacts his daughter aboard a Spaceship near to a habitable moon of Jupiter.

"Is anyone out there?"

Ponderous plotting and a desultory tone impair the dramatic beats of this lengthy story of a new start for humanity as off-screen Disaster affects planet Earth. The scenes set in space are lavishly furnished but stagey while the Arctic scenes are vividly filmed but glum.

2049: Catastrophe, possibly the result of some sort of Holocaust, afflicts the planet, and Augustine Lofthouse (Clooney), refuses to join the evacuation of the Arctic station at which he is based due to his own rapidly dwindling life-expectancy. He meets a stranded young girl, "Iris" (Springall), who turns out to be imaginary, and they travel together to another station further north in order to use a Communications antenna to warn the interplanetary craft Aether, the only remaining outpost of humanity, not to return to Earth. Asteroids damage Aether, forcing its remaining crew to make some difficult decisions concerning their course and direction, before Lofthouse makes contact with astronaut Dr Iris Sullivan (Jones), who turns out to be his daughter, and advises her on the best path to take back to K-23, the only other available repository for human life in the Solar System.

The performances in the film are solid and the direction detailed and painstaking but there is a curiously disconsolate and dislocated air about The Midnight Sky. The back and forth between the Arctic and deep space is presumably intended to increase the sense of jeopardy of each but serves instead to deflate the drama in both. The emotional connection between the two situations – that Sullivan is Lofthouse's daughter – is withheld until the end of the film and lands with more of a thud than any sense of epiphany. Relationships between characters never quite come alive. The film is heartfelt yet underheated. [MD]


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