At its core, the Midnight Sky, directed by George Clooney, has a very emotional tale to tell you. If we can consider a movie like Interstellar as a Father-Daughter relationship story, a similar layer of emotion drives this movie. But the film based on the book Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton can’t hold your interest mainly due to the lack of freshness in the treatment. All Clooney managed to do here was underplaying the usual blockbuster pitch of similar movies. With narratives failing to cross paths engagingly, The Midnight Sky couldn’t induce the emotional high it aspires to achieve on paper.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic 2049 where Dr. Augustine Lofthouse has decided to stay back at a facility in the Arctic pole. He hopes to receive signals from a spacecraft named Ether, which has gone on an expedition to find an alternative planet for people to live. Lofthouse’s efforts to communicate with Ether and Ether’s eventful journey to Earth are what we witness in The Midnight Sky.
What has gone wrong in the case of The Midnight Sky, in my opinion, is that instead of adding layers to a basic story, they were sort of making the story look basic as the movie went on. The wow factor was missing in the narrative. One could sense the excitement leaving the plot, and we get to see these clichés of Sci-Fi space movies that involve sacrifice and unfortunate deaths. And after a point, even the dramatic angle in the story also becomes clear for us, and the movie just loses all its scope to claim any originality.
George Clooney is trying to add a sense of depth to the narrative by slowing down the narrative with a lot of detailing about characters. But as soon as the script starts to simplify the story for the viewer, which is somewhat in the middle of the movie, the movie falls into that usual space. There is an effort to make the journey of the people inside Ether personal to the viewer. But because of the familiarity, that was just not enough. The cinematography of the movie uses these wide shots to depict the sense of aloneness in the world. But in some space sequences, the camera shows us inverted images even in calmer moments. It made me wonder what exactly Clooney and Martin Ruhe were planning to create through those visuals. The editing stays on a single track for far too long, making it difficult for the viewer to find that engagement factor in the narrative.
George Clooney, as Dr. Lofthouse, is playing a monotonous character who is witnessing his end along with the world. In terms of the looks, the character looks definitely in that troubled space, but the writing can’t encapsulate that character’s journey, which we get to know through glimpses of his past. Felicity Jones as Sully has a major role here in terms of the significance of that character, but on screen, the movie fails to flesh out that character, and the scope to perform was extremely minimal.
The Midnight Sky is a movie that faltered on a script level. The compelling element was missing in the beginning portions, and by the time it gained momentum, things started to look very guessable. If the characters’ layering were done correctly, it would have been a movie that could put you in that space where you wonder about the headspace of those characters.
The compelling element was missing in the beginning portions, and by the time it gained momentum, things started to look very guessable.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended