midnight special [film review]

[Second in a series of ekphrastic responses to the films of Jeff Nichols. First.]

Opens on unlikely trio in motel room. Two well-armed men. A young boy sits on floor wearing swimming goggles and industrial earmuffs.

Wide open Texas sky at dawn. A speeding Chevelle. On the run.

Agents descend upon a cult. They want the boy. They need the boy. The boy is gone.

Cut back to the road. Feels like a doomed trip. Headlights off, night goggles on.

‘Shots fired! Officer down!’

‘You did the right thing. He’s more important.’

The ranch in Texas. Feels like Waco and Koresh, but a little farther west and instead a preacher speaking a young boy’s channeled words.

FBI, NSA, doing what they do, asking questions with answers they’ll never understand.

‘Y’all have no clue what you’re dealing with, do you?’

The Chevelle pulls up. An old friend offers shelter. But the man can’t resist. Wants to feel the light flow into his eyes one more time. He’ll pay the price.

Watching the news. The men see what’s coming. What they can’t escape, the fear and fervor burning so close behind the boy.

‘Things with that trooper didn’t need to go down like that. Don’t interfere with me again.’

The gaps, the space unfilled. Undefined connections. Omissions speak it louder, drive it forward.

‘Do you miss it, living on the ranch?’ ‘Yeah, very much.’

Twenty minutes in comes the first bright glimpse…feels like it’s been longer, feels like a rupture.

‘A visible spectrum of light came from his eyes.’

Friday, March 6th, the day of our judgment.

They need the boy. ‘If Alton is with us, we will be saved.’

On the road again. Alton reading comics.

‘What’s kryptonite?’

‘I should have never let you give him those. He’s never seen a comic book in his life.’

‘That’s why he needs them.’

‘He needs to know what’s real.’

‘He looks weaker.’

That gas station. Leaving a wake no one could ever miss. The feds closing in.

The light escapes his eyes. Side of the road. Alton on his knees.

‘We need to take him to a hospital! He’s dying!’

‘No, he will not die! He’s meant for something else.’

They’re coming. Alton sees it in the sky. Off to hide underground.

NSA analyst Sevier figures it out. Knows where they’re going. A convergence rising.

Alton finally sees the dawn. He sees what’s above us. It heals him. He’s learning who he is.

The cult brings their guns and their conviction. Their zealous craving for salvation.

Alton and Sevier. A meeting of the minds. Can the boy’s powers persevere.

Roy is on the edge. ‘The only thing I ever believed in was Alton. And I failed him.’

The final run. An overturned car. A stretch of open marshland.

What’s left of what we need to believe (in).

 

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  1. shotgun stories [film review] | lost gander

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