Cert: 12A Runtime: 112 mins Director: Jeff Nichols Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Jaeden Lieberher, Adam Driver and Kirsten Dunst
He’s not like us
Jeff Nichols is a film-maker that has eluded me! Midnight Special grabbed my attention from the get go and has received glittering acclaim. Cinema is full of superheroes and re-makes these days and not much original cinema. Midnight Special seems to break the mould. So what is Midnight Special about? Roy (Michael Shannon) deeply loves his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) – but Alton has a secret that soon puts both of them in danger. The child has remarkable abilities that reach beyond human understanding, and soon Roy must go on the run from a dangerous religious sect headed up by Calvin Meyer (Sam Shephard). Scientist Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) is also in pursuit, believing the boy to be a dangerous weapon. Fortunately, both father and son have staunch allies in the form of accomplice Lucas (Joel Edgerton) and the former’s ex-wife Sarah (Kirsten Dunst).
Midnight Special is strikingly mesmerizing, you have no build up at all just stuck in this tale. The first forty minutes your brain is trying to comprehend what you are seeing. You are left with a bitter taste in your mouth at the end as not everything is answered. Rather getting the answers spoon-fed to you, your brain has to work and I enjoyed that. Midnight Special is refreshing sci-fi and utterly Spielbergian! It’s a great homage to the family sci-fi tale with a modern twist. Jeff Nichols is definitely a film-maker to keep an eye out for. He wrote and directed this film, it’s utterly admirable. The opening scene is utterly brilliant and your brain is going a 100 miles a minute.The film flows at a slow pace but when the focal scenes happen your adrenaline is pumping. Each shot is utterly beautiful and natural. Midnight Special has a great themes of religion, belief and family. My only gripe is that some fragments of the tale are too thin, and some characters are underused.
Michael Shannon is phenomenal as Roy, I’ve never been his biggest fan but he is growing on me. A frequent collaborator with Jeff Nichols. He plays a man who doesn’t understand what his son is, but knows he must help him to get to his destination. The relationship between him and Jaeden Lieberher is utterly precious and organic. He can do so much with his facial expression and stance. I will be watching Take Shelter straight after this review! I did enjoy Joel Edgerton too, he seems to be becoming more credible as an actor. I will be intrigued to see him in Nichols next venture Loved. Jaeden Lieberher is a great young actor, his transition from naive-ish boy to a boy who understands his purpose. It’s very messiah-esk in all honesty, you could even say it’s the Nativity tale with a sci-fi twist. But this is utterly interpretive from my end! I did enjoy Adam Driver here, he is like the audience building the pieces but obviously in an intellectual way. Kirsten Dunst was rather underused through out, I wish she was more focal. Midnight Special is a great think piece and great original cinema. If you like slow burning sci-fi this is for you, if you love cinema go watch it! A great addition to 2016 films!