That second Midnight Special trailer had me misty-eyed. It got to me in ways most modern films these days cannot, and reminded me of some 80s sci-fi adventure films that were actually family dramas like Steven Spielberg’s E.T. and John Carpenter’s Starman. Two films that director Jeff Nichols obviously made a homage for.
The common thread about these films, despite the lovable freak/alien at the center of the story, is the very mundane but compelling bond family members have for each other; especially when those bonds are threatened by forces like the government and the inevitable fate of the title characters that would take them away from the people who cared much for them. A similar homage was explored by J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 back in 2011. Minor differences aside, all these films deal with the subject of leaving and letting go of people. Surely a metaphor for that inevitable departure all people will surely take, but that’s just my opinion.
What makes the new feature by Nichols intriguing is that it specifically touches on father and son themes and the lengths with which a father (or mother) will go through to protect his child. According to the director, the frightening experience of seeing his son in a life-threatening battle with a disease was what compelled him to write and make the movie. Being a father myself I can clearly see where his sentiments are coming from. It’s a film dealing with potential loss from a parent’s perspective.
The father (Michael Shannon) said it perfectly to his son:
I’ll always worry about you.
I like worrying about you.
That’s the deal.