Mud (2013)

MudHaving heard tell of a boat wedged firmly in a tree, most likely placed there during a recent flood, young friends Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) set out in search of their fabled treasure. Finding it on a small island in the Arkansas delta, the boys are disappointed to discover that the boat has already been claimed. A man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) is laying low from the law, hiding out on the otherwise uninhabited island until he can make contact with Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), the love of his life. Desperate to believe in true love on account of his own parents’ deteriorating marriage, Ellis agrees to help Mud in any way that he can.

Fresh from last year’s self-styled “McConnaissance”, which saw the actor reinvent himself through hits such as Killer Joe, Magic Mike and The Paperboy (which, admittedly, only saw its UK release this February), Matthew McConaughey has continued his ascent into credibility with another accomplished turn in Jeff Nichols’ coming-of-age film, Mud.

The movie takes its name from McConaughey’s character’s mysterious moniker, though the title is equally evocative of the bog-like setting. While never overtly dangerous, McConaughey imbues his character with incredible presence and physicality, generating a mystique and unease that adds to the film’s at times overwhelming sense of foreboding. It’s a praise-worthy performance, and one that could have proved problematic in other hands, not least due to the thick accent and relative isolation to the film’s off-island events.

However, as impressive as McConaughey undoubtedly is, this film ultimately belongs to its two young stars: newcomers Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. It’s actually alarming just how easy it is to forget that the two are simply acting, so believably do they immerse themselves in their characters. Building an easy rapport and mining astonishing depth out of their plucky protagonists, both carry the movie with an assurance that is well beyond their years. Such is their hold over the audience that you are thankfully too entranced to make the obvious comparisons with Tom Sawyer and Stand By Me.

As you might have noticed, this is an incredibly masculine and male-orientated film — focusing at it does on the relationships between boys and their fathers. More than a Bildungsroman or mere boy’s own adventure, however, Mud is a meditation on love, and one that is notable for the lack of biological ties between the two generations of men. Unfortunately, the film’s representation of romantic love is far less positive and wholesome. Every woman in the film is presented as weak and treacherous, with Reese Witherspoon in particular given little to do but pine and cheat.

A little too one-sided to satisfy completely, Mud is a flawed but nevertheless powerful piece of filmmaking. Whatever the film’s muddled message, Nichols has brought together a gifted cast, a great script and some truly spectacular cinematography to altogether mesmerising effect.

4-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Mud (2013)

  1. Pingback: May 2013 – I’ve got a tank on my ass! | popcornaddict

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