1
Jan
2021
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The Midnight Sky

The Midnight Sky

It’s 2049 and after a global catastrophe, artic scientist Augustine suspects that he might be the only person left alive. Marooned by his own choice, he studies the stars for answers and instead discovers that he is not alone. A single solitary spacecraft called the Æther is heading back to earth but its crew have no idea what is awaiting them. Will Augustine be able to warn them in time? 

The Midnight Sky is a sober drama whose end-of-the-world comes not with klaxon-blaring clichés but an icy stillness...

For his seventh movie, director and actor George Clooney has abandoned his penchant for political dramas and gone for a simpler story more beautifully told. A slow, puzzle box of a movie, which slowly reveals itself the longer it goes on, The Midnight Sky‘s chief mystery is that of its central character, Augustine the scientist. Gruff, taciturn and seemingly nearing his final days on the planet, it’s a role that Clooney commendably layers with irascible observations. A man who is best left alone with whatever inner hurt he’s carrying, it seems that his body has decided to compound his misery by failing him too. Unable to function without the use of a dialysis machine, Augustine is doubly stranded at the end of the world in more ways than just one. However, help is at hand for both him and the movie with an inspired piece of casting that is Caoilinn Springall.

You see, where quite often the casting of a child actor can have a polarizing effect on a movie’s overall believability, Clooney has found gold in Caoilinn Springall. In a mute performance pretty much throughout, let’s just say this 7-year-old has more expressive eyes than Ruth Wilson does on a dozen days of Red Bull –and that’s saying something. 

Fundamentally holding the film together by her performance and the sublime score of Grand Budapest Hotel composer Alexandre Desplat, both unobtrusively fill out the emptiness of Augustine’s soul and finishes off his sentences. Further complimented by David Oyelowo as spaceship Æther‘s captain and Felicity JonesKyle ChandlerTiffany Boone and Demián Bichir as his crew, there are also plenty of tough moments in space for each star to shine.

So, seen in its entirety, The Midnight Sky has several touchstones you can call upon. Either as a more soulful and less frenetic version of Interstellar or a better-told tale than Netflix stable-mate IO Last on Earth, in either caseGeorge Clooney has managed to deliver a drama mirrors its arctic location with genuine dread and sanguine wonder. So, whilst its second act may drag a little upon re-entry, nor accelerate to the end like Claire Denis’s High Life, this is a movie where it feels like “George the director” is feeling pretty relaxed. -Why? Because, in a tale of about man who is dead on the inside, George Clooney has found both a character and a style of story worth inhabiting. 

Never one for frivolous movies as a director, The Midnight Sky is a sober drama whose end-of-the-world comes not with klaxon-blaring clichés but an icy stillness with which to catch your breath. Too meditative possibly for some, George Clooney’s latest is the kind of movie Ad Astra wanted to be. Aimed squarely at adults who’ve already tired of their ray-guns, this is a blast of fresh air if you’ve been drifting too long in a vacuum of superhero movies set in space. 

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