Film of the Day (09/17/18): Midnight Special

 

Written By Jeff Nichols
Directed By Jeff Nichols

Color me blown away. I freely admit to a love of high-minded science fiction and have, in the past week, discovered and fallen in love with the works of Jeff Nichols, but even so I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. Nichols once again masterfully tells a layered story full of deep themes, excellent acting and pulse-quickening suspense, even in the smallest moments. The script instantly drops you into the action without exposition, an extremely effective tool that grips you from the opening shot and builds its narrative mystery outward. If you want to see it as a simple story of the depth of parental love, it works on that level. If you look at it through the lens of a sci-fi story about a kid with special powers that has a big reveal/twist, it’s also rewarding. But there is so much more to it. Faith and evolution work hand-in-hand, coexisting peacefully despite being concepts usually pitted against one another. The arc that the boy’s parents go through, 0ortrayed wonderfully by Michael Shannon and Kirsten Dunst, is great to watch as they are forced to let him go to embrace who he is destined to be after protecting him fiercely. Joel Edgerton does a great job as a childhood friend of Shannon’s who will do anything to protect a child he barely knows, speaking to the power of belief that runs throughout the film, down to the cult that has based a scripture around the boy’s words. This is an absolutely fascinating film where everything works. The writing and acting, the editing, sound and photography…all facets of the movie are on point and coalesce into something memorable. The ending gives way to a very interesting discussion, sure to be replete with theories and explanations that give way to replay value. Nichols has yet to make anything less than a very good film.

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