Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Midnight Sky

Movie Name:
The Midnight Sky
Year of Release: 2020
Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demian Bechir, Caoilinn Springall, Tiffany Boone, Ethan Peck, Sophie Rundle, Miriam Shor
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Actor, writer, producer and director, George Clooney is back, following his latest directorial endeavors with "Suburbicon" and the mini-series "Catch-22". "The Midnight Sky" is an adaptation of the book by Lily-Brooks Dalton, "Good Morning, Midnight", and follows the story of Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist whom we first encounter in an Arctic research facility that is about to be evacuated, due to a dramatic occurrence which is taking place throughout the entire planet. We soon realize Augustine is a terminal patient, and has decided to stay behind, since he has no one to go back to. In his youth he briefly had a relationship with a woman, who had a child, but that relationship never flourished, including his relationship with that child. As he keeps vigilance over the unfolding of the events destroying the planet, he witnesses a child that has been left behind, who is constantly mute, but nonetheless continues to keep him company. In parallel, a crew of astronauts who went into space to check on the conditions of another planet to be inhabitable, are returning to Earth. Augustine is adamant in contacting them, in order to inform them of the toxicity of the planet, which sends him on a quest to discover another communications hub. He, much like the team in space, meet a series of hurdles, but eventually manage to communicate and exchange information, forcing everyone to make decisions of where they eventually want to go and what life lies ahead.
"The Midnight Sky" is an interesting film with lofty goals, some of which are achieved and are indeed cleverly illustrated, but ultimately feels under-developed, since it essentially tries to be many things at the same time. The film brings to mind and captures inspiration from Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity", Danny Boyle's "Sunshine", mixed with Joe Penna's more recent "Arctic", to name but a few, in the sense that it captures two narrative threads, one with Clooney's character on a personal journey of redemption, and another with a team of astronauts trying to come home. These parallel paths however interesting they may be, are never given enough momentum to become arresting, with the most interesting one, Augustine's journey, feeling like it could be it's own film, particularly as the relationship with the young girl, we eventually realize may not be all that it seems. These two threads and stories could eventually merge, but the film would need to provide both more time, or be far more deft in its exposition, to at least provide enough time for these characters to have some dimension, and for their journeys to resonate a bit further. The supporting cast features great actors such as David Oyelowo, Felicity Jones and Demian Bechir, all of whom strangely enough, exude very little chemistry between each other. The cinematography from Martin Ruhe is beautiful as is the score of the wonderful Alexandre Desplat. It's a slightly contrived, yet finely executed film from a gifted actor/director, who has yet to find more material in tune with his sensibilities, as is the case of the excellent "Good Night, and Good Luck".