Jeff Nichols’ sci-fi drama “Midnight Special” came out this weekend and it’s
pretty fucking brilliant. The movie follows a father and his son on a late night (midnight, to-be-exact) escape operation after it’s discovered that Alton (his son, played by the pragmatically mature Jaeden Lieberher) has special powers that could be one of two things: a biblical apocalypse or a national threat to the government (naturally). Take a look at the trailer and then we’ll discuss:
It’s less alien…
And more human than you think:
First things first: Nichols is really great at storytelling.
Without corny crop circles or four finger UFO friends (sorry, I love you E.T. but…), Nichols is able to create a reality-based environment, a believable world, and an incredible fear that is relatable to all of us (although we may not be having a juxtaposed problem between creed and extraterrestrials, we all have a fear of losing someone we love).
And his editing decisions are smart, quick, and fun to watch: the film opens with a badass title sequence that will easily go down as one of the most genius ways of visual storytelling paired with immaculate graphics (sorry, nerd alert: I was an advertising major in college).
The men in the film hold up.
But (the one female character in the film) Kirsten Dunst is where the movie’s heart lies.
The film (surprisingly) climaxes to a centerfold on Sarah – Dunst – Alton’s mother. The majority of the film, we come to believe that Shannon (the father) is the strong one in their parenting of their special son, because he will stop at nothing to protect Alton from a cultish group of religious folk. But in actuality, Dunst is the stronger of the two because she accepts the “bigger” picture, the fate that her son will have to go forward with in order to survive and move on in life. She gives a resilient and heartbreaking performance that will likely be looked at during award season (we already think she’s got the Emmy in the bag for Fargo).
This post is approved by this intergalactic club banger: