Midnight Special review: The glow in the gloom

Though it has been compared to ET and Close encounters of a third kind, I refrain from making such connections because I forgot the former and I haven’t watched the latter. Even so, Midnight Special is a mighty film in its own right. Jeff Nichols is a relatively new director and his previous film, Mud, was the vehicle that shot Matthew Mcconnaughey to stardom. I still think Mud is his strongest film; The story about a chance encounter between two boys and a mysterious man is a genre-defying look at lost love and troubled pasts. I have to admit that Midnight Special started off a little underwhelmingly and slow, which quickly picked up pace roughly half-way through. I had a gripe with how the slower moments(especially earlier in the film) seemed to almost fizzle off without adding much depth. Michael Shannon’s acting was always on point but that was about the most exciting thing at the beginning. But it improved. Gaining strength to strength, the film gradually found the light. This light, as warm as a father’s love for his supernatural child, a mother’s heartbreaking acceptance, and the child’s very own beating soul, is as incorruptible and pure as the film itself.

Coming in I had absolutely no clue what Midnight Special was anyway. The only visible cues were the poster which featured some boy in goggles, playing shine the light under his blankey. Aww. Then there’s the headlights of a car below some distance away. Hmm, okay. Here’s the lovely poster by Simon Postle, I think its so much more emotional. Anyhow, given the flood of fantastic reviews on here and else where, I decided that I had to watch this one. I had a feeling it was going to be a kind of indie sci-fi/drama mashup focusing on story instead of action. Midnight Special’s tentative start may put some viewers off and even put some to sleep (I admittedly almost dozed off once or twice), but stay till the end. It’s worth it.

It’s interesting to see how sci-fi films of late seem to provide us with a new angle to chew on. I liken it to opening a box full of wonderfully outrageous jellybeans, with each jellybean showcasing its own unique personality. Midnight Special adds flavour to the most creative genre as of present. It resembles nothing I’ve seen before and will set the tone for sci-fi films to be as groundbreaking and innovative as ever. Michael Shannon spearheads this movie’s dramatic flair, portraying a gripping picture of a father who knows only to protect his son. In the midst of desperately trying to protect his son, a conspiracy brews that involves forces that extend far beyond the familial web. Jaeden Lieberher plays a boy with otherwordly powers that seem far too powerful for his own good and too dangerous for the curious mind.

You’ll quickly notice how the dramatic tension is sustained not by visual fireworks and dialogue but by Nichols’ minimalist approach to film-making. Naturally, this places a lot of responsibility on the actors. And he has good faith. Michael Shannon is the screen’s most enigmatic character while Kirsten Dunst has the most melancholic expressions, subtle yet brooding. Even Lieberher must be given credit for keeping pace with a difficult style. His precocious and emotional capacity knows no limits…and I’m not even talking about the awesome light-shining eyes. It’s risky for sure but it worked to a great degree. Midnight Special is devoid of cheap thrills and flamboyance. It grounds itself in a very true-to-life fashion and wants you to think and feel than be easily amazed.

For all that the film is worth, I felt like I couldn’t really connect as much as I would have liked to. It’s a touching story for sure and acting was all on point. But perhaps this enigmatic film didn’t fully develop characterization. The only truly complete character is Roy (Michael Shannon) who I thought was really intriguing. I wanted to know more about Alton other than the fact that he’s a unique kid. I wanted to know more about the mother’s thoughts on Roy’s plan…I would have loved it if they expanded on the difficulties of coming to terms with a painful but necessary course of action. Even so, Midnight Special offers viewers a mysterious and wonderful treat powered by a solid cast. With a heartwarming story to tell, Midnight Special tears away the fabric of conspiracy, dubious self-interest and overpowering forces to reveal a kind of love; Undying, boundless, altruistic – A kind of supernatural love.

 

Rating: 7.5/10

 

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Chloe Lauren says:

    Once again, wonderful review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks Chloe :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chloe Lauren says:

        No problem! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. jwforeva says:

      Have you seen it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jwforeva says:

        You should!!!! Think you’ll love it

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Chloe Lauren says:

        I will definitely give it a go 🙂

        Like

  2. The connection to ET and Close Encounters stems from the plot line of an entity with special powers needing to be transported back to another realm…and the disturbances from the political and religious groups involved.

    I really liked it, but I didn’t love it. I thought the acting was tremendous and the suspense was amazing. I honestly think Joel Edgerton was the MVP of the movie; his acting was so genuine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sean says:

    I went in knowing nothing about this movie and really liked it. The way it kept pulling back layers kept me interested all the way through. I thought the acting was excellent all around and the visuals were stunning. Not a perfect movie but one worth watching! Glad you liked it too, and good job putting some of its flaws into words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks Sean!! Yup! That’s pretty much how I felt, it was certainly something new 🙂 Some felt like it started off well and didn’t end as well but I think it’s the opposite for some reason.

      Like

  4. table9mutant says:

    Nice review! I do agree with you – I couldn’t fully connect with the characters. But… You don’t remember E.T.?! Damn. What a classic. And you should really watch Close Encounters. : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks!! Hahah I mean I remember the alien, he’s a good alien…right? Hahaha, I really should watch it again, I only rmbr the bicycle in the sky scene

      Liked by 1 person

      1. table9mutant says:

        Yes. Yes, you really should watch it again. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. John Charet says:

    you have made a very apt connection with the film and E.T. and Close Encounters. Having not seen it, I can say at the very least that it does sound like a combination of those two. Keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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