Friday, April 26, 2013

Mud Movie Review

Matthew McConaughey stars in Mud

From our friends at DC Film Review...

Mud: Clean as a Whistle

Jeff Nichols burst on to the scene in 2010 with his second film Take Shelter. The Little Rock, Arkansas native returns home (literally) with the equally brilliant Mud, a coming-of-age story that blends chivalry, romance and thrills with dazzling effectiveness. Leading the way is Matthew McConaughey as the title character... McConaughey is quietly becoming a great actor (cue EDtv and Sahara jokes; We’re immune) before our very eyes, with his fourth stellar performance in the past year. Paired with Nichols’ ability to capture beauty in the least likely of places (sorry Razorbacks, but most folks can’t even point out Arkansas on a map) McConaughey’s performance places Mud among the year’s best films.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Mud is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes 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, 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.

What’s Best: His resume may be short; but Nichols has already established himself as one of the best in the biz at conveying small town America. Mud is oddly beautiful to watch (stranger still, for a big-city boy like yours truly) not to mention deep. Traits like generosity, loyalty and resolve are exhibited and more importantly applauded. Imagine coming across a scruffy fugitive (who just happens to live in a boat, stuck in a tree) and not running the other way? You can learn a lot from Mud, Ellis (played delightfully by 16-year-old wunderkind Tye Sheridan) and the secondary characters in this film. Buoyed by a superb script (Nichols,) it’s hard to find any negatives.

What’s Not: I didn’t find any flaws; but I imagine some viewers may find it hard to relate to an entirely different kind of “daily grind.” If your idea of “roughing it” is going without air conditioning for a couple of hours, you may be shocked by what others consider normal living.

Best Line: ‘That’s his doing-it song,’ Neckbone tells Ellis, after overhearing The Beach Boys Help Me, Rhonda. He’s referring to his uncle Galen (Michael Shannon, who shines in a cameo reunion with director Nichols) and a midday tryst with a comely friend.

Overall: You wouldn’t expect to find Reese Witherspoon in a movie like this, but the Oscar winner is plenty convincing as Mud’s snake-bitten love interest. Nichols’ film is blessed with a terrific cast, great writing and heartfelt acting. Sheridan endears as a hopeless romantic who finds a kindred spirit in Mud (another character who follows his heart.) The second half of the film is spurred by a tense (and realistic) pursuit of Mud by a Texas bounty hunter (Paul Sparks) and a revenge-seeking bad guy (Joe Don Baker.) This feels like another Take Shelter... the kind of film that’s loved by critics, yet falls under the radar for audiences: Here’s hoping I’m wrong. 

Grade: B+