George Clooney as scientist Augustine Lofthouse. Photograph: Philippe Antonello/Netflix ©2020
A few weeks before he began filming The Midnight Sky, American actor and director George Clooney visited Helsinki.
It was early October in 2019 at the Nordic Business Forum, and I listened to Clooney talk about his thick grey beard.
“Have you ever been mistaken for another celebrity,” an interviewer asked on the stage during a fireside chat.
“Right now, the ZZ Top,” Clooney said with a smile and added that “it’s for a job.”
“My wife hates it as everyone else,” Clooney said and received heartfelt laughs from the audience.
The job Clooney was talking about had nothing to do with the down-and-dirty blues band. This one was about a leading role in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama set in the Arctic and in outer space, a film, which he also directed.
Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist, who lives alone in one of the coldest places on Earth. The planet has become unhabitable in the midst of a global catastrophe, and he needs to stop a group of astronauts from returning home.
The story is based on a book Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton (2016) and adapted on the screen by Mark L. Smith known for penning the masterful struggle of survival, The Revenant in 2015.
The danger for survival is omnipresent in The Midnight Sky, whether while floating in space or plowing through the snow drift.
Lofthouse is deeply absorbed in his solitude, sometimes vigilant, other times drunk while listening to Chris Stapleton’s “Tennesee Whiskey.” That is until something peculiar happens to him and drives him to action. The struggle can be seen in Clooney’s eyes and gestures. He lives the role.
The space crew suffers from similar symptoms of longing, and the holograms of family members do little to help.
Felicity Jones (Rogue One, The Theory of Everything), especially, gives a memorable performance as a witty-minded astronaut, Sully.
The Midnight Sky premieres on Netflix in December, and according to Clooney, is an “unfortunately timely film.”
We as viewers, though, are fortunate to watch this.
‘The Midnight Sky’ premieres on Netflix December 23