*Spoiler alert: Massive spoilers for Netflix's The Midnight Sky ahead!*
The latest blockbuster hit to arrive to Netflix comes from actor-turned-director George Clooney. Released over Christmas, The Midnight Sky is an epic set in space that centers around George's Augustine Lofthouse, an isolated scientist attempting to get a message to spaceship Aether to warn its crew that an unspecified catastrophic event has ravaged planet Earth and that they should not plan on returning home.
Accompanying Augustine on the mission is a young girl who barely says a word, played by Caoilinn Springall, who Augustine decides to call Iris, and who, the astronaut assumes, has been mistakenly left behind by a colleague on his former Arctic base.
But the ending of Midnight Sky has left everyone asking the same question: Was Iris even real?
Was Iris real in 'The Midnight Sky'?
In Augustine's first contact with Aether, he speaks with Sully (Felicity Jones) about the unspecified, but most probably man-made disaster that happened on Earth. "I don't know all the details, it was a mistake," he tells Sully before the communication is cut. Sully and her Aether crew are returning from a research mission to see if one of Jupiter's moons is habitable.
"I'm afraid we didn't do a very good job of looking after the place while you were away," Augustine tells the Aether crew later in the film, urging them not to land their spacecraft on Earth.
"No. All survivable areas are underground," he warns them. "And those are temporary," he adds, suggesting that there is no suitable option for them to remain on Earth long-term, and that they might be better off seeing if they can find another place to touch down.
But one of the final twists of the movie ultimately provides a revelation about the child who's been accompanying Augustine on his mission. In the last moments of The Midnight Sky, audiences learn that Iris and Sully are actually the same person, or rather, that Iris doesn't exist to anyone other than Augustine.
And the flashbacks we see throughout the movie — of a younger Augustine (Ethan Peck) having had a daughter with a woman called Jean (Sophie Rundle) — actually come to make sense in the last moments of the film. While we learn that Augustine's family life imploded because he spent all his time obsessing on his work, we also come to learn that Aether's Sully's real name is actually Iris.
The reason Augustine had given child-Iris that name in the first place was that she was drawing a picture of a flower when he found her, but the final scenes see child-Iris disappear, as though she were only a figment of Augustine's imagination or a manifestation of his guilt of having neglected his actual daughter as a child.
Sully reveals to Augustine that she had decided to become an astronaut because of a moon rock her mother, who we come to learn was Jean, had given her when she was growing up.
Augustine declares he's proud to finally have met his adult daughter moments before child-Iris vanishes for good and audiences manage to piece together the overlapping timelines.
Watch The Midnight Sky on Netflix today.