Do we really need a dystopian sci-fi film when we already live in one of them? As the struggles under COVID-19 continue, film lovers get a chance to take a trip down George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” through the small screen that will, more or less, help us feel better than the entire population in his piece.
The screenplay by Mark L. Smith and directed by George Clooney, “The Midnight Sky” follows Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist who is alone in the Arctic. As the only one who survived on Earth after a massive radiation leak, he is now determined to find any space mission to warn them about the catastrophic event. However, due to a weak antenna, he must move to the Weather Center in the Arctic Circle to make contact with astronauts.
Lofthouse, as we learn from flashbacks, is an influential scientist who specializes in the search for habitable planets other than Earth. When he was younger, he meets Jean Sullivan, with whom he gets into a romantic relationship. However, when the woman realizes that the man is too occupied with his work, she leaves him while pregnant with a girl. As we return back to 2049, Augustine refuses to get evacuated, due to his sickness. Weeks later, when the unexplained cataclysm occurs that causes radiation leak, the man is left alone on Earth.
In the meantime, the spacecraft Aether is still on an active mission, returning back from a habitable moon, K-23, discovered by Augustine himself. What they don’t know is that the living legend is about to make contact with them to deliver a message that will change the course of what remains of humanity. However, before it occurs, the crew of Aether, same as Lofthouse himself, must overcome all challenges before making the first contact.
Clooney as the lead actor and director of the film does a fine job, as usual. The subject matter he tackles is highly intelligent but won’t be able to reach a wide audience. The slow-burning science fiction drama delivers some great shots but that’s not enough to keep the impatient audience waiting for the suspense that will never arrive. The problem is not with its ending or, how it was assumed, a twisted ending; certain moments already give up the big surprise way before the film ends, intentionally or not.
That said, “The Midnight Sky” is one of Clooney’s finest works that will be quickly forgotten and lost in the cinematic universe. Because it neither has a juicy concept nor conclusion. Yes, it is intelligent, ambitious and worth telling. But the wrong time was chosen to make the film for a generation that is not ready to embrace it.