He is not like us: The emotionally powerful mystery of Midnight Special

(image via Hitfix)
(image via Hitfix)


In the sci-fi thriller Midnight Special, writer/director Jeff Nichols proves again that he is one of the most compelling storytellers of our time, as a father (Michael Shannon), goes on the run to protect his young son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), and uncover the truth behind the boy’s special powers.

What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Ultimately his father risks everything to protect Alton and help fulfill a destiny that could change the world forever, in this genre–defying film as supernatural as it is intimately human.

Let’s face it – despite all of our more sterling qualities, and current affairs notwithstanding we do have some, one thing humanity does not do very well is play nice in the sandpit with those who aren’t exactly like us.

Or if we do think they could be useful to us or our agenda, we have a nasty habit of treating those different from us as commodities to be acquired rather than people to  be interacted with.

All of our best and worst qualities come into play in Midnight Special where a father risks everything, and I mean everything judging from the trailer, to save his son from those who fear his difference and those looking to use it for their own dubious ends.

But it’s not just humanity on display here; there’s also an intriguing supernatural element woven into the story as the director Jeff Nichols explained to Entertainment Weekly (quote via Hitfix):

“The son happens to have unique gifts. It’s a weird word to use, but his gifts are, um, supernatural. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, E.T., Starman, they were my inspirations – very propulsive journeys that work when you can’t predict what’s going to happen next. This is my sci-fi chase film.”

There is an intensity and emotionality to those kind of films which is very much present in Midnight Special, which reminds me of the very best of the movies Nichols references, and the very best, and alas worst, of humanity.

Midnight Special opens in USA on 18 March 2016; no date for Australia yet specified.


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