Now See This – Mud

Posted: May 6, 2013 in Movies, Now See This
Tags: , ,

File:Mud poster.jpg

Mud (written & directed by Jeff Nichols)

Grade:  A

Matthew McConaughey is on quite a roll.  He’s been delivering one killer performance after another with The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Magic Mike and Killer Joe.  And in this, his latest starring vehicle, as directed by Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter), he once more shines as an earthy man fueled  by hidden demons and an obsessive love.

As the titular character, McConaughey has set camp on an island off the Arkansas coast in a boat stuck in a tree during a flood.  Two young boys, Ellis and Neckbone, stumble upon the boat and lay claim to it only to discover its current occupant.  Mud is hiding out on the island waiting for word from his girlfriend, Juniper, a mercurial woman played by Reese Witherspoon.  The trio strike a bargain and an odd friendship is formed.

Ellis is intrigued and inspired by Mud and Juniper’s story.  While trying to reconnect the lovers, he falls in love himself with an older girl from his school.  Neck looks up to Ellis but is much more cautious in his dealings with the strange man on the island who surrounds himself with lucky totems.  He just wants Mud to honor his end of the bargain to give Neck his pistol once they get the boat running.  But as it all to often happens in life, no one is really going to get what they want.  Mud and his mission may drive the plot but the film is just as much about his young friends, especially Ellis.  His views on love and relationships are consistently challenged by the dichotomy of Mud’s idealized love for Juniper and his own parent’s deteriorating marriage.

Nichols envisioned his movie as a coming-of-age tale, a modern take on Tom Sawyer.  It’s a bit daring to strive for the lofty greatness of Twain’s classic but the filmmaker comes damn close with genuinely great storytelling and with the help of a stellar cast.

Highest recommendation.

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