Midnight Special

Jeff Nichols delivers an unsettling piece of genre cinema that's undermined by its overblown finale

Film Review by Chris Fyvie | 04 Apr 2016
Film title: Midnight Special
Director: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Jaeden Lieberher, Adam Driver, Paul Sparks, Sam Shepard
Release date: 8 Apr
Certificate: 12A

Sight unseen, a trip into sci-fi territory might not have been the first thing one would expect from Jeff Nichols following rural dramas Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud. But this is far from an outlier, and, for a filmmaker of obvious religious and spiritual concerns steeped in Americana and born in 1978, evoking the "powerful innocent on the run from nefarious government types" movies of the 80s makes perfect sense: Nichols wants to believe in something, and he wants you to as well.

But like Take Shelter, Nichols' 95% magnificent sophomore effort, Midnight Special's ending almost critically undermines what is, for the most part, an excellent and unsettling piece of genre cinema as Shannon, Edgerton and Dunst lam it with a child of extraordinary abilities (Lieberher) who may or may not be the saviour of mankind. Nichols has a real flair for tension and lean visual storytelling, and it's these elements (along with the performances) that stick in the memory; jettisoning them for a more than a touch overblown finale sticks in the craw.

Released by 8 Apr by Entertainment One