Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist at a remote arctic research station who may be the last man on Earth. The astronomer is dying from cancer, and he chooses to remain at the snowbound observatory to end his days alone, the same way he lived them. Except he’s not actually alone. A child named Iris (Caoilinn Springall) hid herself away during the outpost’s evacuation and now depends on him for survival. “He wasn’t really into protecting himself at all,” Clooney said. “The little girl is a problem for him, because now he actually has to take care of someone.” Augustine also begins to feel an overwhelming obligation to venture out of their safe haven to contact the Aether’s crew and send them a warning message: Turn back. The Midnight Sky marks George Clooney’s seventh as a director. He can still vividly remember the first scene he directed 20 years ago. “It was in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and it was Sam Rockwell standing completely naked staring at a television, with a long red beard, long hair, and a cleaning woman vacuuming in front of him,” Clooney, 59, says. In this film, Clooney plays Augustine, a scientist and the last person in the Arctic after a mysterious global catastrophe. Based on the 2016 book Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, the film follows Augustine as he tries to contact five astronauts in space and warn them about returning to an uninhabitable Earth. “I got the script way before the pandemic, but still there were all these other elements,” Clooney says. “There’s the denying of climate change but also the idea of how hateful it’s become, how race and all these other things that are tinderboxes in our country really just require anybody to throw a match in it. That’s why I was drawn to the story, because if you play that kind of hatred out over a 20-year period of time, it’s not inconceivable that we destroy ourselves.” The atmospherically rich result is a story about survival, as Augustine braves the cold winds of the Arctic in a desperate attempt to reach a communication tower. The movie isn’t exactly filled with dialogue, but its message is hard to miss. As Clooney says, it’s an “unfortunately timely film.” Although when it comes to movies, what are they if not markers of the present moment? “When films do it right, they show you where we are in certain places in time,” Clooney continues. “There’s a lot of dystopian stuff out now. I think that’s a reflection of where our heads are in terms of the world that we actually live in.” The film will stream on Netflix this December.
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