Even for star and director George Clooney, The Midnight Sky is an unique project.
It’s a sci-fi film that’s more interested in people than science. There are plenty of action scenes, but its overall vibe is thoughtful and introspective, and despite being about the end of the world, it’s surprisingly full of hope.
As such, it’s only fitting that one of Clooney’s best scenes in The Midnight Sky is also one of its smallest. During their trek across the Arctic, Clooney’s character, Augustine, and the small girl accompanying him, Iris, duck into a makeshift shelter for the night. Armed with colored pencils, Iris begins drawing a picture of a woman, prompting Austine to talk about his own past.
The Midnight Sky’s heart and soul lie in its quiet moments, and this brief conversation is key to understanding Augustine and his relationship with Iris. George Clooney has made many excellent movies, but as this scene proves, The Midnight Sky is one of his best yet. Here’s why.
Unlike a lot of the characters Clooney plays, Augustine is much more subdued. He’s cantankerous, and he rarely smiles. There’s a powerful sense of restraint in Clooney’s performance, and you can see it in his directing, too.
Compared to the dark comedic energy of Suburbicon or the striking black-and-white cinematography of Good Night, and Good Luck, The Midnight Sky never calls attention to itself. This scene only has a couple of cuts. It’s mostly just two people sitting across from each other, separated by the glow of a stray flashlight.
It’s confident without being showy, and is the kind of thing that only a director with experience can pull off.