Mathew MCconaughey in “Mud”
Considering that Mathew MCconaughey hasn’t been involved with a major production since The Lincoln Lawyer hit theatres in early 2011, its no surprise really that he has fully embraced the independent film route. He has yet to produce an independent film that isn’t worth watching or worth talking about. Bernie and the very racy neo noir Paperboy were both back-to-back hits and award winners. Not to mention Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, which had women chomping at the bit to see. Mud proves yet to be another great vehicle for MCconaughey and it doesn’t disappoint.
Two boys Ellis (Tye Sherridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) whom live and get around their redneck town of Dewitt Arkansas easily enough to make even the sharpest of folk in town wonder if they see any, if at all parental supervision. Ellis sells fish with his Dad senior (Ray McKinnon) and Neckbone catches clams with his uncle Galen (Michael Shannon), a seemingly free spirit that cares about his nephew’s dealings and how he spends his free time and with whom. Ellis’s parents aren’t doing so well and decide to split up without realizing the effect it is having on their boy or that he is going through the same issue with his first love May Pearl (Bonnie Sturdivant).
So in the boys many travels throughout the hillbilly town they meet Mud (Mathew MCconaughey) on an island just up the river from their respective homes. After finding a boat in a tree, an admittedly weird place for such a method of transportation that mud refers to as “ a helluva thing”, the boys climb up into it and discover that someone is living in it. However, it certainly made me wonder that no one questioned the boats stability in said tree and how the characters immediately climbed up into it without a moment’s hesitation. One could also make the same argument with what Mud is doing on the island and why. This isn’t explained until much later on in the film and despite all of this, the boys agree to help Mud get the boat out of the tree and into the water. Without knowing who he is or his history of violence surrounding that of Jupiter (Reese Witherspoon), an on-again-off-again flame that ceases to burn out. Plus, what any of it has to do with Ellis’s quiet and very observative neighbor Tom Blankenship (Sam Sheppard) let alone how it will affect Mud’s future and current state of being.
MCconaughey and Witherspoon turn in great performances, despite that they hardly share any screen time together in a movie focused on their often-treacherous relationship. Both Tye Sherridan and Jacob Lofland have great chemistry and are incredibly believable as southern best friends.
This is Director Jeff Nichol’s third film and yet again he has proved to be a great up and coming filmmaker. Nichols is known for last year’s excellent psychological thriller Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories both featuring Michael Shannon as the lead. Nichols’s brings strong unforgettable characters that for those who have seen his films, will never forget. His next film will certainly be something to talk about as well and something I will be on the lookout for, because you won’t want to miss it. Mud is highly recommended and has only gained critical acclaim, despite Reese Witherspoon’s recent and rather sad appearance in the media.