'Night Sky' review: Oscar winners Simmons, Spacek age gracefully

Amazon Prime Video series stars J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek as a couple facing big questions and their mortality.

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

Franklin and Irene have to go down to look up.

Down below their tool shed, that is. A hatch leads to a stairway, which then opens up to what looks like an old bomb shelter. But when you close the door… something happens. And suddenly Franklin (J.K. Simmons) and Irene (Sissy Spacek) are looking out at a world not of this Earth.

Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons in "Night Sky."

Such is the premise of “Night Sky,” a slow unfolding mix of sci-fi conspiracy storylines balanced with often poignant meditations on mortality.

Franklin and Irene, you see, are in their 70s. Irene fell recently and relies on a wheelchair or cane to get around. Franklin’s become so absent-minded that at one point he forgets to pick Irene up from a doctor’s office. They are in decline but still very much in love.

They stumbled on their portal to another universe some 20 years ago, just after their son committed suicide. They go down there regularly just to gaze out on the other planet’s sky and harsh landscape. They’ve been tempted to leave the shelter and venture out to the new world but it looks unforgiving.

So they just look. And fade.

Until one night Irene discovers a wounded young man shivering in the hideaway. His name is Jude (Chai Hansen). Irene nurses him back to health while Franklin grumbles and wonders where the heck this guy came from.

Good question.

“Night Sky” takes its time, and it’s one of those frustrating stories where nobody seems inclined to ask direct questions like “Where did you come from?” But as it folds in characters and trips to Argentina, Newark and Michigan, it gains momentum and eventually makes some kind of sense.

Which is nice, but the real cement here is two Oscar-winning actors painting a portrait of aging lovers staring down their eventual demise. There is no greater dilemma or darkness. And “Night Sky,” to its credit, knows and shows this.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 

'Night Sky'

GRADE: B

Amazon Prime Video