Writer/director Jeff Nichols has become one of my favorites. He has yet to make a bad film or write a bad script for that matter. And the fact that he has both written AND directed each of his films says something. With films like Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud, and now Midnight Special, under his belt, he definitely a guy to watch.
After a father discovers his son has strange powers, he must protect him while on the run from, well, pretty much everyone.
This is one film where my expectations were absolutely met. I was hoping it would be good, and it certainly is that – I really loved Midnight Special. The cast is great. Michael Shannon plays Roy, father to Alton, played beautifully by Jaeden Lieberher. Along with Roy’s friend Lucas, they are on the run. But from who? We aren’t sure at first. We find out soon enough, along with some other things, too.
There is a lot of mystery to unfold here. We don’t quite get the full nature of Roy and his friend Lucas’s association, or Alton’s condition, and/or abilities. We know he’s special, but not how. And who or where did they take Alton from? But Jeff Nichols script unfolds naturally, nothing is shoe-horned in. He is so good at letting things be told organically, like they really would as opposed to forcing a scene for exposition. And he chose a great cast. Everyone here plays just like they would as if these events were really happening to them.
Michael Shannon knows how to convey a lot with very little dialogue. You can see his emotions without needing to say a thing. It’s pretty obvious why Nichols likes working with him. Joel Edgerton is also great as Lucas. And Kirsten Dunst is beautifully understated as Roy’s wife, Sarah. And Adam Driver puts in a solid, intellectual turn as Sevier, a scientist working with the NSA, reminiscent of the feeling of someone in awe from Close Encounters of the Third Kind but with less Spielberg schmaltz.
The film deals with issues of religion, faith, and the love of parents for their children and how perhaps you can never really have a control over their lives, their paths are their own. Midnight Special is full of mystery, imagination, and director Nichols keeps things impressively restrained until a last act that is as wondrous and thrilling and awe-inspiring as they come. There are small elements here of a few movies – all over 20 years old – but it’s crafted so deftly and has its’ own original take, that any similarity is negligible at most.
Midnight Special is a great film. I’m betting it will end up being one of my favorites of the year, and it certainly maintains Jeff Nichols as one of my favorite directors. I’m giving this damn near five kittenhands. I definitely recommend this film, and even a big screen viewing. Vote with your dollars here, folks, it’ll be worth your while.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, letting you know that, no, the song Midnight Special is not in the film’s soundtrack.