Facts about Netflix's 'The Midnight Sky' and Its Twisted Ending?
'The Midnight Sky' poster on Netflix. Photo: Netflix

The new Netflix film “The Midnight Sky” is supposed to be a lyrical, melancholic reflection on the persistence of love and human connection even at the end of the world.

The Midnight Sky cast is led by George Clooney, who also directs the film. Based on Lily Brooks-Dalton's 2016 novel Good Morning, Midnight, the 2020 Netflix film follows a scientist who tries to warn U.S. astronauts about major trouble on Earth. The Midnight Sky was written by Mark L. Smith, who previously wrote The Revenant, The Hitman's Bodyguard, and Overlord.

What is 'The Midnight Sky' about?

"The Midnight sky" is a sci-fi movie based on the novel “Good Morning, Midnight” by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Augustine Lofthouse (starred by George Clooney) is a scientist, who discovered an inhabitable moon of Jupiter in his youth. Now, however, he is based at an Arctic weather station, where he may be one of the last people alive on earth following some obscure planetwide radiation catastrophe. Augustine is himself dying of cancer, but he discovers that there is a little girl named Iris (Caoilinn Springall) who has been hiding in the weather station with him. Augustine also learns that a spacecraft has left Jupiter’s moon and is returning to Earth; he and Iris travel across the frozen arctic to reach another station with a more powerful transmitter so they can warn the crew, including Sully (Felicity Jones), that Earth is no longer safe.

The movie is a Hollywood science-fiction epic, and inevitably there are adventures, narrow escapes and tragedies, NBC News cites. The film is not held together by the action sequences, however, but by daddy issues.

Augustine is haunted by memories of abandoning the love of his life, Jean (Sophie Rundle) and their daughter whom he has never met. The silent Ivy serves as a surrogate for what he’s lost — even more literally than it appears at first, we discover by the end of the movie. Meanwhile, Sully up in space has somewhat unexpectedly become pregnant with a daughter by commander Gordon Adewole (David Oyelowo). And just in case you missed the theme, another astronaut, Sanchez (Demián Bichir), late in the film explains that he sees his colleague Maya (Tiffany Boone) as a surrogate daughter, replacing his own who died very young.

The bleak landscapes of space and of the Arctic aren’t just physical barriers, then; they’re symbols of distance and loss. When Augustine and Iris get separated in the snow as wolves circle, it’s a visual analogue of his own internal emotional aridity, and of his regret (“I thought I lost you!” he cries). The film concludes with a series of sentimental reversals, which allow Augustine the chance to make amends and reconcile with his past errors and his grief. The death of almost everyone on Earth is engineered so that Augustine can make up for the neglect and disconnection of his past and restore a domestic family unit which he foolishly neglected.

How Augustine’s Past Plays Into The Midnight Sky

Throughout The Midnight Sky, we see a series of flashbacks detailing a relationship between younger Augustine (Ethan Peck) and a woman he once loved. According to Cinema Blend, it starts at a lecture that eventually inspires the Aether mission and its crew, but this romance ends as Augustine turns his back on human connection in favour of his work. Despite lying in a flashback, Augustine’s girlfriend actually did give birth to his child. Except for seeing her briefly one time, he doesn’t get to know her or become involved in her life.

Facts about Netflix's 'The Midnight Sky' and Its Twisted Ending?
Photo: NBC News.

As it turns out, his daughter is the little girl that he hallucinates as his companion on the journey to the antenna. Named Iris, she never speaks but joins Augustine on his perilous quest. In the greatest twist to The Midnight Sky, we’re informed that Iris is actually part of Sully’s full name: Iris Sullivan. Through a great turn of fate, the pregnant Iris finally gets to encounter her father, for a brief moment in time, before becoming one of the potential saviours of humanity.

What happens at the end of 'The Midnight Sky'?

With a treacherous journey to the stronger antenna at the Arctic base complete, Augustine successfully warns the Aether’s crew that they shouldn’t return to Earth. Providing them with the data to slingshot around the Earth and return to K-23, it’s assumed that our lonely, and terminally ill astronomer finally passes on after finally “meeting” Sully (Felicity Jones), one of the astronauts on the Aether. It’s a moment that poignantly closes out Augustine’s story, as Sully means more to him than he could have ever known.

There are hints of the movie that could have been. Clooney develops quick and effective chemistry with Springall. Sure, she’s mostly a device to give his character something greater to fight for, but they have a silent relationship that works. (Although the film doesn’t have nearly enough quiet moments, thanks in part to an aggressive score by Alexandre Desplat.) Some of the space action stuff works, including a big “Gravity”-inspired space repair sequence that probably will be more effective in theatres than for people who watch Netflix on their phone.

Most of the time, “The Midnight Sky” drifts like space debris between its three settings—shuttle, Arctic, flashbacks—instead of feeling like it's building momentum. It’s like Clooney the director was so concerned about adequately conveying the details of each part of his story that he never broke down the meaning of them or the characters involved. All of the other films mentioned in this review that clearly inspired this one never lost their characters. The heart of this movie just isn’t there. It’s as weightless as space.

'The Midnight Sky' Cast

The Midnight Sky stars Clooney as Augustine. In the main supporting roles, two veterans of the Star Wars franchise play an astronaut couple who need to reassess their immediate future. Alongside all the primary players, a newcomer makes her movie debut as a mute girl who surprises Augustine.

George Clooney as Augustine Lofthouse

Facts about Netflix's 'The Midnight Sky' and Its Twisted Ending?
Photo: Air and Space Magazine

George Clooney stars as Augustine Lofthouse, a famous scientist who is dying from cancer. When an apocalyptic event transpires on Earth, he attempts to locate the spacecraft Aether and warn its five astronauts about what's going on back at home. In flashback sequences, it's implied that Augustine abandoned important people in his life to pursue his professional goals. He eventually discovered that one of Jupiter's moons could potentially sustain life, which prompted Aether's mission.

George Clooney established a strong TV resume in the '80s by portraying George Burnett in The Facts of Life and Booker Brooks in Roseanne. In the '90s, he starred as Doug Ross on ER and then landed a prominent movie role as Seth Gecko in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn. Clooney became an even bigger star upon portraying Batman in Batman & Robin and headlining the Ocean's movie franchise as Danny Ocean. He won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Syriana, and also received Academy Award nominations for Michael Clayton and Up in the Air, ScreenRant cites. The Midnight Sky marks Clooney's sixth feature as a director.

Felicity Jones as Sully

Facts about Netflix's 'The Midnight Sky' and Its Twisted Ending?
Photo: Looper

Felicity Jones co-stars as Sully, a pregnant Aether crew member who is romantically linked to the commander, Gordon Adewole. Sully has a dream about being abandoned by her colleagues at K-23, which thematically links to her backstory.

Felicity Jones is best known for portraying Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and for her Oscar-nominated performance as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything. She also appeared as Anna in Like Crazy and Sienna Brooks in Inferno.
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