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Few films hang on to such threads of suspension of disbelief as Midnight Special. I’m even going to expect people to say the film fails for it, but its hook — the notion of faith — also applies to the audience. It is in this space of mystery that writer/director Jeff Nichols made his mark with Take Shelter (Take Shelter offers powerful entry into film’s recent history of schizophrenic cinema), as a sort of art house version of M.Night Shyamalan. Take Shelter follows a man (Michael Shannon) whose visions could either point to his insanity or a gift to portend the future. The story walks a thin line to keep the audience doubting the lead character until the film’s final, eerie shot. Nichols’s next film, Mud (Film review: Mud makes for OK film but misses exploiting the power of mystery), felt less impressive. It spent too much time trying to spell out the feelings of a young boy (Tye Sheridan) who decides to help a killer (Matthew McConaughey) hiding out on an island reunite with the woman he killed for (Reese Witherspoon). The film wasn’t bad, and it featured some strong performances. However, it felt over-long, dwelling on unnecessary exposition when Nichols already proved he could do a lot to propel a film by showing respect to the audience’s ability to infer while still tapping into its feelings.

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