Close Encounters

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Seeing is believing in Jeff Nichols’s Midnight Special, a sci-fi thriller, about an eight year-old with special powers being hunted, by the government and a religious cult, through the American south. Two men accompany the boy: a well-meaning type (Joel Edgerton), and a grim sort (the incomparable Michael Shannon). The great virtue of Midnight Special is that it begins in medias res, with the boy already on the run; exposition leaks into the story gradually. Once we get a handle on things, the movie sags a little, but Nichols is quick to surprise us along the way. Although the story’s inherently sentimental, Michael Shannon’s face effaces most of the tenderness built into it. While remaining an intimate movie centered on a family, Midnight Special has the feel of a big movie, featuring aerials, explosions, and a car chase. The electronic score is lush (David Wingo).

By Alec Julian & Carrie White 

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