Release year: 2012
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sam Shepard, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson
Two boys come across Mud (Matthew McConaughey) a fugitive living in hiding by the river. They agree to help him win back his love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) and escape the law.
Although Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, 2013) is literally the poster-boy for this movie, and despite the fact that he is the title character, this movie is really about the two boys. Particularly Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his struggle to come to terms with how people behave in the adult world expressed through his parent’s divorce and the character of Mud. All though the story follows Ellis, it quickly makes sense why it is called Mud instead of Ellis. Mud oozes into every fiber of the movie and sticks to it like the sticky substance by the same name. Once you have encountered him, you can not get him out of your mind and neither can any of the two boys. Especially Ellis is drawn to the mysterious stranger, who fights so much for his love at a time were his parents have dissapointed him by giving up fighting for theirs, making him a role model in the young boys eyes. The connection between the boys and Mud is only made stronger by the fact he appears in the place they go to be alone, and they hide him like boys will hide a forbidden frog or snake found in the wild, making him very much theirs. As the story runs along and Mud’s less attractive sides appear, Ellis is struck twice as bad by being dissapointed once again and Mud is forced to look at himself in the eyes of Ellis. Sheridan (The Tree of Life, 2011) is magnificent as the young Ellis supported by the equally great Jacob Lofland (Little Accidents, 2014) as his friend Neckbone. Witherspoon (Walk the Line, 2005) as always delivers great acting, in a part quite out of her typical rom com sweetheart while Sam Shepard (August: Osage County, 2013) brings integrity to a gritty movie as the quiet neighbour Tom who keeps to himself. But this is without doubt McConaughey’s movie, who again delivers a prime performance as a characther dripping with so much mystery and unspoken danger that it takes a great performance to still make him so likeable. The dry and dirty vegetations of the Arkansas nature looks both stunning as well as delivering an eerie feeling that leaves you paranoid throughout the movie, waiting for something terrible to happen as sudden as a crocodile striking out at you from the muddy water. The result is a solid, well acted drama in a somewhat slow-moving pace.
Chris Pine (Star Trek, 2009) was in talks for the lead, but Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, 2013) was always writer/director Jeff Nichol’s first choice.
Picture copyright: Scanbox