The Midnight Sky is a 2020 American science fiction film directed by George Clooney, based on the 2016 novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. It stars Clooney as a scientist who must venture through the Arctic Circle to warn off a returning spaceship following a global catastrophe. Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler, and Caoilinn Springall also star.
Scientist Augustine Lofthouse has devoted his life work to finding habitable planets where humanity can expand. He meets Jean Sullivan after giving a presentation at a gala and the two form a romantic relationship. After a pregnancy scare, Jean leaves him because of his obsession with work and inability to bond with other human beings. Several years later, Lofthouse encounters her again and she tells him that they have a daughter, whom he chooses not to meet.
Thirty years later, in 2049, an unspecified disaster has wiped out most of the Earth’s population and left the surface contaminated with ionizing radiation. Lofthouse refuses to join the evacuation of his Arctic base, knowing he does not have long to live due to an unidentified serious illness requiring hemodialysis. He searches the base’s computer system for active crewed space missions to warn about the situation on Earth, and finds only one: the interplanetary craft Aether, returning from an exploration of Jupiter’s habitable moon K-23, which Lofthouse discovered. The crew has lost contact with Earth but does not know why. Lofthouse finds his antenna is too weak to contact them.
He finds he is experiencing mental blackouts. After a kitchen fire, he finds a young girl hiding who does not speak. He tries to contact the other evacuees to get someone to pick her up, but they are all out of range or are already dead. The girl communicates by drawing and tells him her name is Iris. He grows fond of her and takes her with him on a snowmobile to another base farther north, which has a larger, more powerful antenna. He loses his dialysis equipment, condemning him to die soon. Arriving at the base, he manages to make contact with Aether, but the crew is interrupted by an asteroid field that damages the ship’s radar and communication systems.
To repair the damage, pregnant mission specialist Sully and her partner, Commander Adewole, conduct a spacewalk with their flight engineer Maya. They repair the communications and radar but are caught in the middle of a second asteroid strike that fatally injures Maya. Sully reaches out to Lofthouse, who tells her not to return to Earth, but go back to K-23 and start a new life there. Aether’s pilot, Tom Mitchell, refuses, but upon discovering his wife’s final words and seeing the state of Earth’s atmosphere, he understands that it is in the crew’s best interests to go back to Jupiter’s moon. Still, he decides to use one of the two re-entry vehicles to go back to Earth, hoping to find his family who may have been evacuated to temporary safety. Sanchez, who saw Maya as a second daughter, decides to accompany him and bury her body.
In her final communication, Sully tells Lofthouse that he was one of the reasons why she joined NASA. She thanks him, telling him her mother Jean knew him, as he had given her a moon rock, and that her full name is Iris Sullivan. Lofthouse says he already knew her name, making it clear that the young Iris he saw was a hallucination. When asked how he ended up at the base from which he contacted Aether, he says he thought he might be able to help someone, hinting that the reason that he kept track of Aether’s mission was not just because he discovered the moon to which it went, but also because he knew Sully was his daughter and that she was a part of that mission. Before heading out into the cold unprotected to die, Lofthouse tells Sully he is proud to have finally met her and Sully describes K-23 to him. Sully and Adewole are left to return to K-23 using a course provided to them by Lofthouse to give humanity a second start.
George Clooney as Augustine Lofthouse
Ethan Peck as younger Augustine
Felicity Jones as Dr. Iris “Sully” Sullivan
Caoilinn Springall as young Iris
David Oyelowo as Commander Adewole
Kyle Chandler as Mitchell
Demián Bichir as Sanchez
Tiffany Boone as Maya
Sophie Rundle as Jean Sullivan
Tim Russ as Mason Mosley
Miriam Shor as Mitchell’s wife