Midnight Special

Quick, it’s midnight, what do you do? I tell you what I do. I sleep.

But for some people midnight is something special. And yes this poor intro was just a way to say the title Midnight Special, but it isn’t going to well.

Before the film, I knew nothing about it outside of the director, who has recently directed Take Shelter and Mud. I loved Mud! That means I might like this one too!

How old do you have to be for this potential Halloween costume to come off as creepy?

Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) has gone missing in Texas. An Amber Alert has been issued statewide, strangely with no picture, but a good description and a picture of the man who probably took him. Roy (Michael Shannon)! Sure, Roy happens to be his father, but that is besides the point. That boy needs to be found and they will put a lot of resources into it.

Hell, even the FBI is involved. That’s how serious this is. The boy was taken from a place called The Ranch, which is a bit of a religious cult. They hold sermons at night, led by Calvin (Sam Shepard). They think the boy is their messiah and that judgement day is coming soon. He has glowing eyes and gives people emotional visions that make them think everything will be alright. They send a few people to find him (Bill Camp, Scott Haze), where the FBI has an NSA member (Adam Driver) conducting the search.

Roy has a childhood friend helping him, Lucas (Joel Edgerton), and along the way also running into Sarah (Kirsten Dunst), Alton’s mom. They believe their boy is sick and the only way to help him is to get him to a specific location and time, based mostly on a whim. They have to travel only at night, with a whole mess of people with guns trying to stop them.

Also featuring smaller roles for Paul Sparks and David Jensen.

Yes I did say travel only at night. This movie isn’t called Noon Special.

I have a staggering weak knowledge level about sci-fi movies from the 70’s-90’s unless they were aimed at kids. This is a film that feels like it is full of allusions and I understood probably none of them.

The good news is that I didn’t have to catch any allusions (because, there also might be none, fuck if I know) to enjoy the pants off of this film. By the end, I felt such sorrow and joy simultaneously, and there aren’t many films that can pull it off. It is just a beautiful film, from the acting, cinematography, to the arguably simple story. Parts of the film do feel like a mystery, but the point of the film isn’t to answer all your questions but to take the viewer on the ride with the boy and be amazed and full of wonder. Jeff Nichols, the writer/director, feels like an older and wiser Damon Lindelof despite being five years younger. The mysteries and secrets are important for the story, not just shocking viewers.

And really, when it comes down to it, his is a film about a father afraid to let his boy off into the world and become his own person. Their journey is very emotional and every line delivered from Shannon you can feel/se the pain and sorrow in his voice and eyes.

Midnight Special is probably this years Ex Machina. A beautiful sci-fi film that doesn’t get enough attention, although this one is a lot more broader in its scale and reach. I know for certain I might never look at a sunrise the same way.

4 out of 4.

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