Friday, May 10, 2013

Movie Review: "Mud"

Set in Arkansas on the banks of the Mississippi River, Mud plays kind of like a Southern coming-of-age fable that tries to be like a modern Tom Sawyer, and for the most part director Jeff Nichols' film succeeds.

In the film, Matthew McConaughey portrays a convict on the run, who hides out on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River.  Here is found by two boys exploring one day.  The two boys take a liking to McConaughey's lovestruck charisma as the man simply known as Mud, who manages to recruit them to help him rebuild a broken down boat in order for him to make his escape.  Of course, Mud doesn't want to leave until he can retrieve the love of his life, Juniper, portrayed by Reese Witherspoon.

What I found the most enjoyable about this film was the relationship between Mud and the more prominent of the two boys, Ellis, who is played by Tye Sheridan.  Mud's devotion to Juniper and his philosophies on love inspire Ellis at a malleable moment in his life when his parents are separating and he is having his first brushes with girls.  While it is a story about a convict trying to escape police, it's really a story about this boy's coming-of-age and how this unlikely man transforms him into what I hope will become a good young man.

McConaughey steals every scene he is in through sheer charisma, and Sheridan's quiet performance is every bit the opposite, being one of those great acting jobs where most of everything is internalized and in the eyes.  While the film has some logic gaps that at times don't make much sense in a real world story such as this, not to mention the fact that I'm tired of movies representing the South as trailer parks and thick Southern drawls, at the end of the day, Mud is one fine movie.

I give Mud an A-!

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