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Film Review: Midnight Special

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★★★★☆

In a genre overrun with movies that replace narrative with explosions and effects Midnight Special is a rare treat.

Midnight SpecialDirector Jeff Nichols follows up Mud with this sci-fi chase movie that through its twists and turns slowly reveals its wonders leading to an awe-inspiring climax.

The story follows a father (Michael Shannon) on the run to protect his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) who possesses some strange, and special, powers. What starts as an escape from a religious cult (who worship the boy's powers), the narrative sprawls into a nationwide manhunt with the Federal Government hot on the trail. The reality of Alton’s existence is slowly-revealed throughout maintaining high levels of intrigue across the running time.

Despite its overall sci-fi theme, Midnight Special is essentially, at its core, a family movie about a father risking everything for his son. Nichols has expressed that this movie is an ode to how he feels about his own son, and it shows.

The connection and emotion displayed is utterly believable and at times heart-wrenching.

Midnight Special is the embodiment of a director perfecting his art, mastering both the visual (the movie features some excellent effects that subtlety weave into the overall scene) and the emotional, through fine story-telling.

The choice of cast is also something that carries the movie. Shannon, best known for depicting weirdos and freaks, is brilliant as a restrained everyman, while Adam Driver provides some wonderfully subtle comic-relief. Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edegerton also put in fine, emotionally taut performances.

While Midnight Special wears its influences on its sleeve, with obvious nods to classics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Starman, Jeff Nicolshas essentially created his own unique take on the genre – a rare sci-fi that combines elements of everything that makes exceptional film.

This is by no means pure escapism, it requires concentration and investment but the rewards a huge. Give Midnight Special the time and it will deliver an emotional and engrossing cinematic experience.

Midnight Special is in cinemas from 8th April

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