Film Reviews - - by Amris Kaur

REVIEW: Midnight Special

REVIEW: Midnight Special buy online soma without prescription Midnight Special employs a tense soundtrack and minimal dialogue to craft a suspenseful tale of a uniquely gifted boy pursued by meddling forces. Inspired by sci-fi classics of the ‘80s, but bearing director Jeff Nichols’ smart, slow-burning indie brand, the film draws you into the drama of a father who is prepared to give up everything for his son.

Michael Shannon plays the father on the run with a childhood friend (Joel Edgerton) and his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), a precocious child with supernatural abilities. As they try to outpace a religious cult and the FBI, both eager to hunt them down as a significant date creeps ever closer, Alton’s unique powers become more extreme and destructive.

Jeff Nichols devotees will recognizing the deliberate character and depth of Midnight Special. Its weighty pace develops the unfolding plot in parallel with characters that are fully rounded, yet rarely say more than they need to: Shannon is especially noteworthy, infusing his character’s powerfully quiet manner with his particular brand of magnetism.

Introducing his film at the Piccadilly Picturehouse, Nichols’ describes Midnight Special: “It wears its inspirations on its sleeve. I was a kid of the ‘80s – I grew up watching E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Starman, and I think you’ll feel a lot of that in the film.

Although its inspirations are clear, the film is a different entity altogether. Blockbuster sci-fi films have a huge legacy and a devoted following, but this means that films like Midnight Special, paying distant homage to classic sci-fi, might face criticism for failing to recreate the experiences and emotions of their influences. In a way though, the link between this film and its influences is irrelevant. Nichols is a different kind of director, and this is very much a Jeff Nichols – and not a Steven Spielberg – film.

Nichols’ intricacy of thought is ever-present, especially in the way Midnight Special revolves around a delicate web of dichotomies, both contextually and within the film. it’s inspired by classic sci-fi but it goes well beyond it; in form and scope it’s vast, but it’s grounded by low-key comic relief and nostalgic references; it pitches the very small (Alton) against the all-powerful – be that God or the FBI; it’s otherworldly, but the acting is understated and human. It’s Midnight Special, but the oft-referred to significant time is 3pm: broad daylight.

He’s also brought his own experience into the film, saying, “This is a very personal film for me. At the heart of it, this is a film really about the way that I feel about my son.” The feeling of overwhelming emotion and significance in the face of parenthood is set at center-stage, and scaled back to stop short of overt sentimentality by Shannon. Powerful moments are unseen and significant moments remain unspoken, vivid testaments to both Nichols’ and Shannon’s minimalist styles and contributing to a powerful result. The use of silence in the film is a welcome respite from films that condescend the viewer by feeding them emotional cues in the form of saccharine lines.

Nichols gives the acting talent room to shine, and characters are given time to develop. Adam Driver, fresh from Star Wars (though cast in Midnight Special well before appearing in that film) lends himself particularly well to the wry, nerdy character of Paul Sevier, an NSA agent keenly seeking Alton. He delivers his dry comic lines impeccably; this works especially well when speaking to the leader of religious cult known only as “the ranch” about the significance of secret radio transmissions intercepted by Alton:

Meyer: “We wrote them down, it became our scripture. These are words of the Lord.”
Sevier: “Or the federal government.”

Kirsten Dunst plays Alton’s quiet, unassuming mother: details of her past with her son are hinted at but never made explicit. Her gentle manner and levelheadedness contrast with Shannon’s intensity, and her strong maternal figure serves to highlight her son’s human side.

Choosing to dodge plot-explaining dialogue, Midnight Special benefits from a soundtrack that speaks for it. Blending futuristic melodies with pulsing electronic bass, David Wingo, writer of the soundtrack for previous Jeff Nichols films Take Shelter and Mud, uses musical eloquence to fill in the gaps and draw you in from the moment the opening shots take hold. Like all excellent films, the soundtrack and visuals are inseparable, working perfectly in parallel to gripping effect.

In our millennial age, as James Bond morphs from a dashing cad to a troubled character with a dark past, and Batman goes from camp to a twisted figure mirroring his greatest foe, so sci-fi films grow up and become cerebral. Little by little, Jeff Nichols is helping to change the landscape of science fiction, using broody art-house techniques with a focus on everyday drama to breathe new life into the genre, and Midnight Special is a fitting testament to his growth as a director. cheap soma online consultation Midnight Special is now showing in cinemas across the UK


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