You can thank this arthouse film for uniting Swift and Antonoff on ‘Midnights’ – it’s all very well to disagree with and even to dismiss, on the basis of taste or intellect, the films they make, but not to reject them on the same grounds. As for Swift’s acting, it remains the most remarkable thing about him – he is able to play a character with the most limited talents and at the same time maintain his control and poise over some of the most difficult situations he is asked to play. He gives the best performance of his career in ‘The Woman In White’, a film which, although it is not his finest, leaves him as brilliant as the film can demand, but which, by way of contrast to ‘Midnights’, may not have received the same accolades, for ‘The Woman In White’ is not a film Swift might have made – or at least not with the same sense of purpose or challenge. But to Swift’s eye it is.
The film is based on the memoirs of the author, Elizabeth Strout, who was married to Swift from 1970 until her death in 1998. It is often referred to as a ‘whodunits’ film. There are quite a few reasons for this. It is a ‘romantic’ film; it is an exploration of guilt and of solitude. But perhaps most obviously, it is a thriller, a genre Swift had a particular affinity for, and which he would revisit numerous times, most notably in ‘Under Milk Wood’ (1978), ‘A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius’ (1983), ‘A Simpleton Blossoms’ (1984), ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ (1984), ‘An Englishman In New York’ (1985), ‘A Fish Called Wanda Part II’ (1988), ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Part II’ (1990), ‘Under Suspicion’ (1995), ‘Bewitched’ (2005), ‘A Simple Plan’ (2009) and ‘The Girl In The Cafe’ (2013). But the most compelling reason for calling ‘Midnights’ a ‘romantic’ film may be the reason why, as a film, it is so rare: it takes the subject matter of a book that is very much a book about people caught up in terrible trouble, but which never quite delivers on those expectations.
There are many people who have read ‘Midnights