Midnight Special

Midnight Special

Midnight Special

2016. Directed by Jeff Nichols.

A box office bomb and Nichols' least well received effort, Midnight Special is a story about the sacrifices of fatherhood and the unyielding faith that parents have for their children, masquerading as an Amblin homage chase story.

Alton is a child who was adopted into a religious cult whose leader believes he is "special". His biological father and his father's best friend kidnap Alton and begin a perilous journey towards a location specified by the enigmatic child, pursued by various agents, each with their own agendas.

Michael Shannon delivers a career high performance as Alton's father. Shannon is a chameleon, able to completely become whatever the film needs him to be. In this case, he is a simple man who believes his son's otherworldly claims with conviction. There is no questioning, no compromise, only dedication and support for helping and protecting his son at all costs. Joel Edgerton supports as Shannon's character's world weary best friend. He is simply amazing in the way he manages to use minimal words and maximum physicality to become the one friend that everyone has, the one who will never leave you and help you hide the bodies. Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver round out the supporting roles as Alton's ex-cult member mother and a NSA agent who has become intrigued by Alton's abilities. Sam Shepherd gives a brief cameo as the leader of the aforementioned cult.

Technically, this film is a sneak attack. It only uses CGI when it has to. Adam Stone's camera is alive but passive, capturing the story in a deliberate mix of eerie white neon and lush Midwestern yellows. The idea of something extraordinary in the everyday world is the magic of this film. You know it not by what is said or by what secrets are uncovered. It's what you see and don't see. Nichols' script has a lot of body language communication that helps drive this home and Erin Benach's thrift store-unique costume design is masterful. You won't be able to look at swimming goggles the same way ever again.

Completing this wonderful package is David Wingo's simply perfect score. As with everything Nichols, the music is organic and never brash or cheap. Every note is a symbol for what is transpiring on the screen, becoming a phonetic narrator to this one of a kind urban fairy tale.

Nichols is a filmmaker that dwells in the realm between reality and fantasy. He makes intelligent films that force the audience to make their own conclusions about the esoteric dilemmas they have witnessed. Midnight Special continues Nichols' exuberant and unrivaled portfolio of directorial mastery.

Highly recommended.

UHF

UHF

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