Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2016. Warner Bros., RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Faliro House Productions, Tri-State Pictures. Screenplay by Jeff Nichols. Cinematography by Adam Stone. Produced by Sarah Green, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones. Music by David Wingo. Production Design by Chad Keith. Costume Design by Erin Benach. Film Editing by Julie Monroe. Berlin Film Festival 2016.
Imagine if the character Michael Shannon played in Take Shelter got to write a movie and you have the results on display here. Shannon and buddy Joel Edgerton are on the run from the law after kidnapping a young boy (Jaeden Lieberher) from a religious cult that sees him and his gradually revealed abilities as their savior. With the law on their tail they head towards the boy’s mother (Kirsten Dunst) before making their way to an appointed place at an appointed time that has to do with the child’s otherworldly destiny. FBI analyst Adam Driver discovers that the young man somehow has knowledge of top secret weapons and is looking for answers of his own. Some flashy moments of visual panache and terrific performances by a cast who never try too hard to be compelling don’t quite keep this one at the level of director Jeff Nichols’ previous efforts: the various spheres the film takes place in, religion, authority and suburban motel living, never quite connect or inform each other, while the secrets that the boy possesses are obscure and have no bearing on the fate of the characters around him or the world in which they live. It’s as if Nichols was trying so hard to be creative and original that he forgot to include an actual story, while there are emotional confrontations between characters who feel so deeply for each other that are never really earned. It’s never boring but it isn’t particularly interesting either; the image of a boy with blue swimming googles will probably endure in cult film history but an ending reminiscent of Tomorrowland might not.