Release Date: April 26, 2013
Running Time: 130 minutes
I don’t know about you but I am digging Matthew McConaughey’s decision to take more risks with his career. He hasn’t made one of those interchangeable romcoms since 2009’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Instead, he’s focused his attention on roles that intrigue and challenge him, that push him to be the compelling dramatic actor that A Time to Kill, Lone Star, and Frailty hinted he could be. He’s on a roll, having given terrific performances the past two years in The Lincoln Lawyer,Bernie, Killer Joe, and Magic Mike. Now comes Mud, a heartfelt coming-of-age drama that pairs McConaughey with Jeff Nichols, the Austin-based director of Take Shelter. McConaughey stars as Mud, an accused murderer who hides on an Arkansas island while he waits to be reunited with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Juniper, who is played with concealed vulnerability by Reese Witherspoon. Mud’s discovered by two teenage boys,’s Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland). Ellis is so moved by the tale of true love Mud spins that he agrees to provide him with food rather than turn him over to the authorities or to the bounty hunters who are on his trail. Ellis has problems at home—his parents are on the verge of separating. So Mud’s story about being on the run for defending Juniper’s honor speaks to a boy who’s grappling with how to act on his own feelings for the opposite sex. Boiled down to its essence, Mud is a uniquely American exploration of teen angst, first love, and good old-fashioned revenge. Ellis finds in Mud a kindred spirit who can guide him through the most confusing period of his young life. Offsetting his quiet charisma with a hint of danger and dubious logic, McConaughey presents Mud as less of a surrogate father than as an older brother who enjoys sharing his experiences and imparting life lessons to a captive audience. What Ellis gets from Mud isn’t so much sage advice but the poise to handle everything that is going on in his life. Sheridan slowly allows the confusion and anger that grips Ellis to give way to a confidence that is exhilarating but ultimately fleeting. Sheridan delivers an emotionally honest performance, one that ranks among the best we have seen from in recent years from actors of his young age. There’s a genuine bond to be found between McConaughey and Sheridan that fully invests us in their unusual but warm relationship. Nichols allows Mud to unfold at a relaxed pace, with each successive scene being allowed to breathe. The film builds in tension as it moves toward its inevitable climax, one which questions the wisdom of taking an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Delivering on the promise of Take Shelter, the elegantly told and beautifully shot Mud allows us to see through the eyes of a troubled teen to fully understand and appreciate how his world view is shaped before him.
Aired: April 25, 2013
Web site: http://mud-themovie.com/