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.