In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The sci-fi spectacle is just a Trojan horse for some really intimate, internal story telling.”
“You have no clue what you’re dealing with, do you?”
In just three movies, writer and director Jeff Nichols established himself as a new, unique voice of cinema about modern day, rural America, and what it means to be a family. Shotgun Stories was a small story of loyalty, class struggle and standing up for something, even when you know winning is impossible. Take Shelter took a possible paranoid schizophrenic and made an amazingly compelling and tragic story about the price you may pay by standing by those you love. With Mud, Nichols took on coming of age with a story about a boy and a mysterious drifter, that was so much more than its pulpy plot may have indicated. So when I saw that he had seemingly gone a lot bigger and more ambitious with the long awaited, long delayed Midnight Special, the wait only made me more intrigued and more excited.
Racing through back woods, Texas roads in the middle of the night, Roy (Michael Shannon) and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are obviously trying their best to remain undetected. It turns out, Roy has fled a cult and technically kidnapped his own son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher). Cult leader, and Alton’s adopted father, Calvin (Sam Shepard) has sent goons on their tail, while the government is also in hot pursuit. It turns out that Calvin’s cult is built around the visions and trance like ramblings of Alton, that also happen to contain top secret government information.
As their frantic escape leads them across several states, we learn that Alton possesses great power that he can barely control. Power that’s only intensified and even harder to control when he’s exposed to sunlight. While Roy and Lucas seek help from Alton’s excommunicated mother (Kirsten Dunst as Sarah), the government begins to understand the true extent of Alton’s existence, thanks to scientist Sevier (Adam Driver).
I loved Midnight Special. It more than lived up to the high expectations I had after Nichols’ other movies, and it made the long, long wait worth it. But while I loved it, I’m not sure how much of it I actually understood. I don’t think it’s necessarily a complicated movie, I just don’t think Nichols was very interested in the specifics of the plot, as much as he was more interested in the relationships of the characters. Roy’s devotion to his son, Lucas’ devotion to his old friend Roy, Sevier’s emerging understanding of what he’s actually dealing with… The sci-fi spectacle is just a Trojan horse for some really intimate, internal story telling.
Next up for Jeff Nichols is a movie called Loving, that IMDB describes as, “Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married.” That sounds like his loyalty against all adversity theme is still in full effect. And after seeing how well he can handle big, sci-fi action, I’m pretty excited to see what he does with a more reality based, period piece. But at this stage, I’m pretty sure he could make any movie about anything in any time or place, and I’d be there.