Plain and simple, movies come out at such a fast clip that it’s pretty damn easy to miss stuff, it happens all the time. Thanks goodness that these days we can watch a movie in so many different ways that it is getting harder and harder to have an excuse not to watch some great films that we just miss in the theatres. “Mud” is a gritty southern fable in the truest sense of the word as two young boys and a lovelorn fugitive spin a magical web of intrigue.
“Mud” is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend ‘Neckbone’ (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland), who find a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) hiding out on an island in the Mississippi river. Mud describes a series of fantastic scenarios; he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn’t long until Mud’s visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.
In this his follow up to “Take Shelter” writer/director Jeff Nichols has assembled a true southern fable about the magic of childhood and the ever changing nature of life and relationships in an engaging and richly creative yarn. Nichols simply makes the backwoods, swamps and currents of the river look like another world as he captures the magic and wonder of these two young boys exploring their universe and getting into trouble. It’s such a simple yet solid and relatable story that we can all get behind on multiple levels, filled with some glorious imagery and classic storytelling structure that Nichols is quickly becoming a master at making some epic films while still on an indie scale. Granted it drags a little too much in a couple of spots, but this is some grand storytelling by a writer/director who is truly finding his footing by balancing tastes and style into something remarkable and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some great performances from a solid ensemble cast either.
Matthew McConaughey continues the fantastic year he had last year with his performance as Mud, the charming sociopath who charms the kids into helping to reunite with the woman he loves. Mud is not a bad man, just a tragically misguided and misunderstood one. Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland as his unlikely friends work perfectly as both boys are of that age where they start to explore and learn about the world around them, for better and for worse. The ensemble rounds out with the likes of Sam Shepard, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Reese Witherspoon and Joe Don Baker, the magic of the film really does lie with McConaughey’s interactions with the kids as they both learn how to be adults and move on from their various personal situations.
Picture and sound quality were first rate as expected and the special features include a making of “Mud” featurette along with interviews from the entire cast and crew.
While “Mud” is a slight step back from “Take Shelter” it is still a wonderful piece of storytelling more than worthy of your theatre going dollars if you are looking from any Star Trek based alternatives.
4 out of 5 stars.
“Mud” is now available to rent on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers. You can also find it available for purchase from retailers like HMV, amazon.ca and iTunes.
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