Midnight Special (2016)
Despite what the director himself might wish for, Jeff Nichols may never become Hollywood establishment. He simply isn’t interested in telling ‘the big story.’ His films are rather explorations of concepts, and how they affect individuals and their relationships. Take Shelter was a fascinating take on faith and fanaticism; Midnight Special looks once again at the family, in particular the lengths to which parents go for their children who are different and may pose a risk to themselves and others.
Quite literally: central to the story is 8-year-old Alton Meyer, who has supernatural powers, both spiritually healing and destructive. He is on the run with his father, the fantastic Michael Shannon (who unfortunately has less to work with here than in Take Shelter), to reach a mysterious set of coordinates and hide from government forces and a strange cult.
Sounds like the perfect plot for an intense, suspense-laden sci-fi thriller? Well, it’s all of these things and more, but don’t expect high-speed chases and explosions every few minutes. Midnight Special is much more emotional than physical, a psychological drama above all else. Fortunately for us, Jeff Nichols’ films are their own special category, and hopefully remain so!
Special mention of Kirsten Dunst, who is remarkable in a very small part.