Good stories make good movies, and “The Midnight Sky” benefits on all accounts. Based on the book “Good Morning, Midnight” by Lily Brooks-Dalton and adapted for the screen by Mark L. Smith, this post-apocalyptic tale translates well to film and is perfectly suited to George Clooney‘s directorial style. I loved this film from beginning to end.
After a catastrophic event decimates most of the planet, lonely scientist Augustine (Clooney) finds himself all alone in a deserted research lab in the Arctic, which he has refused to evacuate because he is terminally ill. Likely the sole survivor of the global event, Augustine receives notification that a space crew is currently returning to Earth after a two year mission, unaware of the tragedy that awaits. The man makes it his final quest to contact the team of astronauts (Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler, and Tiffany Boone) and warn them to turn back to the recently discovered, inhabitable moon of Jupiter before it’s too late as the home they once knew will soon be gone. One night while working, Augustine stumbles upon a young girl (Caoilinn Springall) hiding in the lab. He forms a bond and finds a reason to keep going, doing everything he can to keep her safe.
There’s a lot of complexity to the narrative, and Clooney splits the film into two settings that are equally effective. The story is told in two locales: onboard the spacecraft and back on Earth in Antarctica, and both are compelling. This dual storytelling keeps the pacing brisk, and it’s well-told. Eerily relevant themes of communication and longing for human contact are disturbing, giving the film a deeper meaning during the world’s current pandemic.
It’s a form of psychological horror in a way, because it’s absolutely terrifying to think of being the last survivor on the entire planet. Clooney is effective as a man who is wrestling with crippling regret but seeks redemption by doing his best to save Iris. When Augustine comes to terms with their impending fate and accepts the gravity of the situation, it is Iris who grabs his hand and gives him a purpose. The story is sad, but also inspiring.
“The Midnight Sky” is a smart, ambitious film that doesn’t settle for a cookie cutter happy ending. This science fiction drama is a reminder that life is always worth fighting for, even if you may be the last human standing.