Midnight Special

DRAMA; M, 1hr 52min

STARRING: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Jaeden Lieberher, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver


Special boy: Lieberher (left) and Shannon

With painful urgency, two men and a boy peel out of a fleabag Texas motel’s parking lot by night. The boy, who wears vivid blue goggles and an air of precocious calm, is 8-year-old Alton Meyer (Lieberher). His accused abductors are his father, Roy Tomlin (Shannon), and Lucas (Edgerton), Roy's friend from way back when. They're hotfooting it because they're wanted by both the authorities — of whom Driver is a key member — and the cult from which Roy and Alton have escaped. Each group is preoccupied with Alton's incendiary powers, while he has somewhere he desperately needs to be.

 

Alton is a mysterious munchkin, and writer-director Jeff Nichols, with whom also Shannon worked on 2011’s Take Shelter, keeps him that way with shocking indications of what he can do. Crystal clear is the atmospherically sustained danger confronting Alton and his carers — Dunst joins the besieged party as Alton's mother, Sarah. Shannon is no stranger to dark, tight corners: in this one, his every gesture telegraphs anguished concern. Edgerton and Dunst, too, are impressive in their burning sense of purpose. And as the riddle at the centre of the uncanny storm Lieberher's unworldly gravity counterbalances them all.