Based on the acclaimed debut novel GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT by Lily Brooks-Dalton, THE MIDNIGHT SKY (2020, streaming on Netflix) is a competent and polished film about stakes both large and small at the end of the world, though for all its literary ambition, it left me feeling kinda empty.
The film begins with some type of nuclear catastrophe that is spreading deadly radiation throughout the world, producing an extinction event. At an Arctic research station, the researchers prepare to evacuate, as they want to be home for the end. A single man doesn’t: Augustine, a brilliant scientist accustomed to solitude. Meanwhile, out in space, all the other missions have returned to Earth except for one, whose crew doesn’t know what’s happening. Augustine hopes to reach them to tell them the news.
The film has some great actors such as George Clooney as Augustine, and you can sort of see the literary nature of the novel that produced the story, but overall there’s so little action, and the dialogue is so clipped and slow, that I never really felt like I got to know anybody and come to care about them. I think I was supposed to feel the movie, but the gravitas never came through for me. For the apocalypse, the whole thing seemed very calm and antiseptic, almost sleepy. As a result, when some big reveals come at the end, the emotional punch didn’t connect for me.
So in the end, it was an okay watch, though I had to apply some energy to stick with it. I have a feeling it might be better to read the book first, that way I could have filled in everything that seemed to be missing while I was watching.