Father’s House – ★★★★★
All the best films must work on many levels. They will not be easily pigeonholed into neat categories, instead crossing genres to leave you wondering what you have just witnessed. Midnight Special is one such tale and is the fourth feature length film from director Jeff Nichols. He has once again teamed up with his go to actor Michael Shannon to explore how much parents will endure to see right by their children.
The film is not in any rush, slowing letting enough line go to keep you interested. We wonder if the child Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) is the victim of a religious cult lead by Sam Shepard. They have anointed him a prophet believing his ramblings and speeches are the words of God. The FBI have gotten wind as it just so happens that Alton’s speeches contain highly encrypted government information which as Adam Driver’s character puts it there haven’t even been penalties invented so severe are the national security breaches. We see Alton under the care of his Dad (Shannon) and another man Lucas (Joel Edgerton) as they try and stay ahead of the Church they once belonged to, the FBI and whoever else might be trying to bring harm upon them. The family unit is complete when we see Alton’s Mum played by Kirsten Dunst.
We then see the real heart of the film; how a mother and father cope with a not so ordinary child and how they will do anything to protect and keep them safe. Though Alton’s special abilities seem to be the reason their family unit has fallen apart we never question their devotion to him which is a testament to the acting strengths of Shannon and Dunst. Driver is superb in the stereotypical sci-fi role of science nerd with a conscience and heart of gold as opposed to the stuffy military types. Like Driver’s character much of the film has elements of the great sci-fi films but has carved out it’s own take on a difficult subject which to fully examine here would be a major plot spoiler.
The film was made for an estimated budget of $18 million which pales in comparison to the $250 million for the recent Batman v Superman. So like most lower budget films it has to rely on character development, plot and good acting which it has in spades. While the ending is more than satisfactory some may feel it slightly lacking. Just bear in mind those budget figures one more time and remember the destination always isn’t the most important thing.
Midnight Special opens Friday the 8th of April