Lee reviews mystery/drama “Midnight Special”, and since the principal of a good mystery is ‘the less spoiled, the better’; it’s brief.
As a parent, how do you support your child in doing something you don’t personally understand? You’ve raised them, you’ve cared for them; one day they decide their life has a purpose you never intended for them. While ideally a parent might instil a sense of self-determination in their child, if that child then determines their life was meant for a path that the parent had never considered, will the parent then backtrack on their own values, or continue to support their child hoping they know best?
“Midnight Special” hints at questions like these without forcing too much pressure on the narrative to resolve them. The urgency of the situation is too high; there’s no time to really dawdle and attempt to understand the greater ‘hows’ and ‘whys’. And if that’s the argument a film wants to make, that the mystery and urgency of the plot is more important than the bigger questions, then it better be able to walk the walk. Mercifully, “Midnight Special” does just that.
Fast action that shifts up the dynamics of our protagonists constantly so we never feel comfortable in any one place. Involving revelations and twists on its mystery narrative to pull you along without ever giving you all the information needed to solve. A tense atmosphere, compounded by great character performances that drives home the setting of real, even sometimes simple human beings caught up in something much bigger than themselves.
It’s a smartly written film, with not too much dialogue and a lot of understated emotion that treats its audience with enough respect to let them fill in some of the blanks themselves. All that and a satisfying ending; “Midnight Special” feels like a movie from a bygone era that might not be for everyone, but kept me engrossed to the very last.