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Midnight Special

December 2, 2016

Midnight Special (2016)
Director: Jeff Nichols
Actors: Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton

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Synopsis: In the near future, Roy (Michael Shannon) and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are shepherding Roy’s son Alton east across the state of Texas and towards Florida. Alton possesses paranormal abilities and appears to be communicating with an extra terrestrial body just above the planet. The FBI and Roy’s old religious cult are hot on Alton’s trail…

Review: There’s a lot to commend in Jeff Nichols’ stylish and concentrically atmospheric sci-fi curio. The film works especially best in its gripping opening stretch: an elliptical in media res montage that nicely thematises the wide spectrum of players and their stakes in the narrative, as well as hinting at the transcendent, supernatural theme centred around the boy’s “specialness”.

In a sense, the aura of Midnight Special‘s opening few scenes acts as apt microcosm for the pros and cons of the film overall. It’s never less than spectacularly cinematic, and each sequence features some kernel of ingenuity; however it also feels like the technique, stylistics and favouring of atmosphere are increasingly at service to a banal, hokum and underdeveloped central concept. It’s as if the opening fifteen minutes were a stellar short film which earned the director the right to pad it out more unconvincingly to feature length format. There’s also the sense that Nichols doesn’t quite have the confidence to honour the tauter, darker bent of his leanings, instead pushing the material more towards a hackneyed Spielbergian sentiment. (December 2016)

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