Posted Apr 14 2016

Midnight Special - This Movie Especially Rocks

Dir: Jeff Nichols

Starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher, Sam Shepherd

Midnight Special is a hard one to pin down. It has been named in the same breath as Close Encounters – and to a degree (as was that film) it is sort of a road movie. And – to a degree – it is one in which the journey and destination are both physical and spiritual. (As was that movie.) And it certainly owes a visual debt to Spielberg and his early Amblin days – there’s even a wonderful close up of a group of feet walking – seriously, watch every Spielberg movie up to and including Always. (The bearded one might have a fetish.)

But it’s also beautifully unique. Just as Jeff Nichol’s previous Mud was so beguiling yet worryingly uncertain in where it was going next, this movie never betrays its course. It is a film that tells you little to lure you in, then drags you along with no guarantee of where you’re going to end up.

And in this day and age, that is just by itself something of a triumph.

Nichols’ cinematic other half Michael Shannon – he of the oblong face that is yet so remarkably expressive in the simplest of ways – is the dad who kidnaps his son from a really rather unnerving cult (headed by a superb Sam Shepherd) to take him back to his mum (an excellent Dunst) and after that to…well, that would be telling (Or even fully understanding.)

This is a film of a long car journey into the dark of night and the promise of a dawn beyond. You just get in the passenger seat and go. And if you do, it’s definitely worth the ride.

Nichols here confirms all of his promise to date. And more than that, offers the potential of so much more. But this movie is not just a calling card for Hollywood to come and offer him a Marvel of a Jurassic. It feels deeply personal. It’s about events in life – no matter how extraordinary some of these may appear – that are deeply personal. It’s fathers and sons – as most of his films appear to be. It’s the inherent fear of parenthood and how that slams bang into the joy of same. It is rather beautifully unique. And while some may not buy the third act – they’re just wrong. No offense intended.


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