The Midnight Sky (2020)
Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on December 22, 2020 @ tonymacklin.net.
Some movies are worth our suspension of disbelief. The Midnight Sky is not one of them.
The Midnight Sky - directed by George Clooney, with a screenplay by Mark Smith based on a novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton - throws the kitchen sink into space.
The ending of Michael Clayton (2007) was an interminable shot of Clooney in a car. It showed that Clooney does not spare his visage.
The Midnight Sky brings that visage into full force. This time Clooney has a bushy, gray beard. Oscar time?
In The Midnight Sky, Clooney gives a tour de force performance. [It's his first appearance on screen in a movie since 2016.] He is in close-ups, medium shots, and even dots of him far away. His image is omniscient.
See George stare. See George glare. See George glower. See George plod. See George shuffle. See George lumber. See George slump. See George plummet. See George flounder.
See George eat. See George drink. See George play chess. See George throw up. See George hug a toilet.
In The Midnight Sky, George Clooney plays scientist Augustine Lofthouse. He has lived through an apocalyptic "event," that has left the earth uninhabitable. Some of the survivors are flown from an Arctic outpost, to die at home, Augustine stays behind at an observatory to die alone.
But, lo and behold, Augustine is joined by a young girl Iris (Caoilinn Springall). She doesn't speak, but they begin to bond. Augustine is unable to communicate with a spaceship returning to earth from a two-year mission to another planet, which might provide life. He decides to go to another site with a better antenna.
He and Iris set out on a trek over barren, frigid territory. After frightful, incredible experiences, they reach their destination.
The latter part of the film focuses on the astronauts on their way toward earth. The two major figures are a pregnant scientist (Felicity Jones) and the Commander (David Oyelowo). The other astronauts are Maya (Tiffany Boone), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler) and Sanchez (Damian Bichir). It's predictable which one of the other astronauts is expendable.
Gifted actors like Chandler and Bichir are underserved by writer Mark Smith, who gives them no depth and pedestrian dialogue. Also the shots of Iris out of range of Augustine are dubious.
The music by Alexandre Desplat is another heavy hand in The Midnight Sky. His music - lots of piano and some strings (a slight bit of Hitch's Vertigo)- attempts to give meaning to rote scenes, but it only overwhelms them and seems contrived.
Ultimately, The Midnight Sky is too much and too little.
That's a spacey mixture.