on 25 September 2013
Jeff Nichols' follow up to the impressive Take Shelter is a triumph in many respects. Similar in tone, and set against the alluring backdrop of rural Mississippi, the film swallows us in from the very opening movement which sees our two young leads Ellis and Neckbone heading off on a small, rusting motorboat in the hopes of finding the speedboat that Neckbone's uncle (Shannon) says has been left up in a tree by a huge flood. Combine such a setting with some truly beautiful and melty cinematography by Adam Stone, and we have the template for something special.
Matthew McConaughey's career has been something of a punchline for many a joke over the years, and often with good reason what with his shirtlessly starring in so many generic romcoms, but there's no denying he's made a massive step in changing that image recently by not only taking on far more challenging and complex roles, but by doing them really well. Who would have guessed a few years ago that he'd be leading Scorsese and Nolan pictures? He could have just taken the easy road and picked up quick paycheck after paycheck, but instead he decided that the acting and respect was more important, and he did something about it. That's to be admired and applauded. In this case, as the titular Mud, he continues this resurgence by playing on the ambiguity of the character with a really hypnotic and almost mystical performance, and creates so much empathy towards him despite the narrative allowing as much reason to dislike him as like him. It's one of those effortless performances that just sells the character.
Yet, as great as McConaughey is, it's the two young boys who completely steal the show. They are both just fantastic. Despite the title of the thing, it's their story, and I don't think the filmmakers could have found two better young actors if they tried. Amazingly, this is only Tye Sheridan's second shot at acting (his first coming in the divisive The Tree Of Life) and Jacob Lofland's first, but they both look as though they've been doing it for years. Lofland is the comedian, providing the film with the majority of the well-rationed laughs with enviable nonchalance, but Sheridan's performance in particular, so emotionally-charged and fragile, is what will take your breath away. Both of these boys are ones to watch out for.
Other big names pop up in smaller roles, such as Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard and Michael Shannon, who previously worked with Nichols in aforementioned Take Shelter. They're all great, but Michael Shannon is a bit underused. It's nothing to do with the character being underwritten, I just think if you have someone as great as Shannon you have to use him more.
There's a whole section of the plot that inspects Mud's past and what led him to the island, which is fine, and mostly very interesting, but part of that turns into this sort of action movie revenge subplot. While the film is always gripping, it begins to interest me less when it veers off into that vendetta territory - even if it provides a quite thrilling climax. There's nothing particularly bad about it, I just think the rest of the film has built such a wonderfully powerful character-driven story that by that point I'm not really in the mood to see shooting and explosions - I'm more interested in the people talking.
And if there's one other squib, it's the song that plays over the end credits. It tries to do that Tarantino juxtaposing thing where the film ends one way, then a music track kicks in with a completely different tone, but it just doesn't work in this instance. The final scene, at the risk of giving away spoilers, is relaxing and meditative, but then a strangely hyper song kicks in which frustratingly jolted me out of the moment. It's no comment on the film itself, it's just a strange creative choice.
However, back to the good stuff, this is gripping, profound and enigmatic filmmaking. McConaughey continues his career resurgence in alluring fashion while Nichols continues to impress behind camera, but it is two absolutely fantastic performances from young Sheridan and Lofland that make this such an impressive piece of work. See it.
on 15 September 2013
I adored Mud, after seeing it a second time it was even more wonderful and spell-binding and may just take home my film of the year title. Perhaps it was the strong sense of nostalgia of me and old pals growing up, that it brought about my eagerness to fall in love with the movie or perhaps it was just the elegance, grace and sheer beauty of the way it was shot and acted.
One thing is for sure, with Take Shelter and now this, Jeff Nicholls the director is a raw beast of a film maker who creates sophisticated and mesmerizing stories out of simple themes, but all the while keeping one eye on things being cinematic and entertaining.
McConaughey plays a mysterious drifter - the eponymous Mud who strikes up an allegiance with two preteen boys named Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) after they expose his whereabouts near their Arkansas hometown. Initially a mythic individual, it turns out he's merely biding his time until he can reunite with his true-love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon),
Yes, thats right..Reece Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughey together in a film that isn't strictly a romantic comedy. Now theres a shock!
The main themes surround the boys as they encounter love at all ends of its mysterious spectrum..a learning curve that many of us can appreciate from our adolescence. Tye Sheridan is a fine child actor and is in almost every scene, lets hope he does not stray down the McCauley Culkin path.
Mud is an exceptional film with a great cast including a dazzling performance from the main kid who falls under Mud's mystique and raw charm, and a pace that may deem too leisurely for those who confuse deliberate with boring. If there are some flaws it is with the inconsistencies with how it wraps up..i mean how did the bad guys know he..well i wont spoil anything. A slow burner with perhaps one too many signposts maybe but given patience you will be rewarded with an adult take on the strains of growing up.
Two fourteen-year old boys befriend a stranger (Matthew McConaughey) who has been living on their secret island in the Mississippi River. His name is "Mud," he's wanted for murder, and he's being followed by some very dangerous men.
This movie is a real gem; it's smart, honest, and edge-of-your-seat exciting. It portrays the boys' hardscrabble life in their backwater town with uncompromising violence and grit and is also filled with decency, understanding, and many forms of love.
The two newcomers who play the boys are natural actors, both expressive and sympathetic. McConaughey plays a tough guy who never had a break; he's an anti-hero to root for. Reese Witherspoon has a small but important role as Mud's trampy girlfriend and Sam Shepherd and Joe Don Baker round out the excellent cast.
All of the characters are well-developed and the audience comes to really care about them. The story blends good bits from "Stand By Me," "A Perfect World," "Whistle Down the Wind," and even "Tom Sawyer" and is still unique. It pulls no punches and is truly enjoyable. 4.5 stars.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2014
I really like this film. I have been a fan of Matthew McConaughey since I saw him in A time to kill. Not everything I've seen him in since has been up to that high standard but there is a lot to like about this film. If I were to make a comparison then I would say it is a little like a southern whistle down the wind without the religious element.
on 26 April 2014
Anyone who has seen the Howard Hawk's film 'Red River' will notice similarities between it and 'Mud'. From the gun motif and the relationships between older and younger males to the hallucinatory and wish-fulfilment ending. Yet it also explores one of the most neglected relationships which is as much despised in the mainstream media and society of today as it was lauded in the decade of 'Red River'. That is the friendship between two adolescent boys. When all around them is sinking into the mud, their relationship is the rock founded on respect, loyalty, trust and devotion that doesn't require payment and hardly needs words, but is executed in looks and thoughts and deeds.
A film which is leisurely, understated, thoughtful and thought provoking.
The Blu-ray has sub-titles and all the necessary facilities to make for a good viewing experience.
Maybe this film is about more than a castaway ( Mud) who’s got just one shirt, one pair of blue jeans and one pair of cowboy boots… and needs a damn good shower, but there’s no doubt that he and the two boys ( Ellis & Neckbone) steal the centre stage. There is only a fleeting appearance from Reece Witherspoon.
The film is typical old Deep South countryside, complete with pesky – critters!
The film has an OK storyline and is reasonably entertaining as a watch.
If I was honest it was too overly –sentimental and slightly corny for me, though I still quite enjoyed it – ‘A Dallas Buyers Club’ it certainly is not.
This film made a big profit and so has done well financially, so plenty of people thought it worth their time to go and see it. For me, I could take it or leave it and I’ll be passing it on for the family to watch.
on 27 December 2014
I loved this film. As the other reviews said, it's comparatively low in action and moves at a slow pace, but a film can be enjoyable without superheroes and exploding helicopters. The story (and McConaughey's accent) are rich as molasses, and the cinematography; clearly a love letter to the hazy, abundant Mississippi scenery. McConaughey may be the eponymous protagonist, but for me, he plays a supporting role. The story centres on 14-year-old Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan, and his longing to believe in love after the separation of his parents. We see Ellis cocky, hopeful, confused and crushed as the film progresses, and Sheridan is utterly convincing throughout. One to curl up and luxuriate in.
on 20 April 2014
Well worth the fours stars. Matthew McConaughey slips out of the chains of chick flick world and into a role that fits him like a glove. He builds an unlikely friendship with kindred spirit Tye Sheridan (one to keep an eye on), although the drama going on around this friendship, was for me more intense. A light hand on the dialogue gives the veiwer space to remind themselves of those shared feelings and connect to this film. I liked the sense of 'lost world' the setting of the river gives , putting the classic coming of age elements onto the knife edge of change.