Stars: Michael Shannon, Jaeden Lieberher, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, David Jensen, Sam Shepard, Scott Haze, Paul Sparks, Dana Gourrier.
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenplay: Jeff Nichols
A science fiction story that works on most levels, though just a little refinement would have made this good film into a great one. To get the comparisons out of the way it has aspects of classic Spielberg homages from Close Encounters and E.T.; Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) has visions that mean something and he must get to a certain place in order to fulfil those visions. His father Roy (Michael Shannon), Roy's friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton), and his mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) rescue him from a religious cult and try their best to take him to where he needs to go even while the FBI and NSA try to track them down.
There are many glorious things going on in this picture and most of them are attributed to its incredible cast. Though the premise sounds insanely intriguing enough it sometimes feels a little thin, that is when Shannon, Edgerton, and Adam Driver really develop it into a film that you can sink you teeth into a bit more. Shannon—as always—is sensational, without knowing anything about Roy you immediately gravitate towards him. You feel his connection with his son, his love, devotion, fear, and worries with just his puppy dog eyes (or maybe his worn homely dog eyes, yeah that works). It is only recently that I have really paid attention to Michael Shannon's career and I can see why he is held in such high regard. But Shannon would not work here without Edgerton being such as solid supporting actor, and Driver allows for a slice of empathy within the villainous FBI troops.
This film could a used a bit more direction in regards to what part of the story is the most important. It starts off with Roy and Lucas kidnapping Alton from the cult, but by about half way through the cult storyline pretty much gets dropped, the FBI agent's storylines kind of putters out to nothing. It feels like there was not as much focus made to tie up loose ends.
But the film is beautiful, the way it is not afraid to use full darkness on the screen is commendable and they do not use it as an excuse to cheapen the cinematography.