Midnight Special (2016) is a special kind of movie: very low-budget indie, with a big concept, but played out small, focused on the lives of simple, quiet people. We saw the preview when we watched Take Shelter, and it's definitely got the same genes. Also, both star Michael Shannon and were directed by Jeff Nichols.
The key image of the film is a car speeding through the night, two men driving, Shannon and Joel Edgerton. In the backseat, a little boy is wearing dark goggles and reading a comic by flashlight. We don't know who he is or where they are going, but we are hooked.
Little by little, the story is revealed. The boy and his father, Shannon, belonged to a Christian cult who considered him a prophet or savior. Shannon and his friend Edgerton took him on the lam, to get to a location at a time for reasons that we do not know. But we do know that the cult and the government are chasing them - government scientist Adam Driver for one. Also, Shannon is ready to kill, even kill state police, to make it to the rendezvous.
Are these guys crazy? Is this a child abduction metaphor? Well, they stop to pick up the boy's mother, Kirsten Dunst, so that's not what's going on. I guess I'd have to say it's about the same thing as Take Shelter: Ordinary fucking people in situations that push them to their limits, situations that they and we can't understand.
I'm not sure the whole thing holds together, partly because of the elliptical approach to the story. There is an ending, and things do get explained, but I'm not sure I'm completely satisfied. But the art direction of the finale is lovely and makes me wish it was more of the movie. But then it might have turned out like Tomorrowland.