63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Timeless piece of rural Americana,
This review is from: Mud [DVD]  (DVD)
A coming-of-age story, set on the banks of the Mississippi River, that manages to be both thrilling and spiritually profound. Two adventurous Arkansas boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), discover a dilapidated boat wedged high up in a tree on a small island. Setting their sights on making it their own, their plans are scuppered when they meet the mysterious Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a heavily superstitious fugitive with crosses nailed in his boots and a winding snake inked on his arm, who is living in the boat. He is back in town to reconnect with his true love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Ellis feels an immediate kinship with him and his quest, and the boys set about helping fix up the boat. As his parents' relationship suffers at home, and Mud's dark past resurfaces, Ellis's life begins to change irreversibly as he takes his first tentative steps away from childhood.
Mud may be the titular character but this is very much his and Ellis's story - two naive romantics who believe in love in the purest, traditional way and as a result suffer in its volatile hands. McConaughey is remarkable, emanating an eerie tranquillity that masks a burning anger - every second he's on screen, time seems to slow to the speed of his protracted metrical speech. Despite his enormous presence, it's the performance of young Tye Sheridan that really stands out for its naturalism and impressive range. Every emotion that courses through him has an intense authenticity, making every experience we share thoroughly moving.
This is a sentimental film that touches on melodrama, and isn't as nuanced as it may initially appear - but is no less worthy or absorbing because of it. The quiet contemplation of the first half is transformed into something of a more traditional thriller which ultimately delivers a degree of accessibility and satisfaction that a more subtle denouement wouldn't offer. Visually `Mud' is flawless, capturing the natural scenery and earthy characters with incredibly beautiful shots - pulsating with a feeling of time and place, part 21st century, but all organic and untamed, with men and boys who don't just live on the river, they're part of it. `Mud' is a deeply affecting look at the confusion and heartbreak of young love told as a timeless piece of rural Americana, drawing on the classic traditions of Mark Twain. A lyrical odyssey as enduring as the river that forms its setting.