Mud (Jeff Nichols, 2013)

What's it about? On the banks of the sleepy Mississippi, fourteen-year-old friends Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) discover a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) living rough on one of the river's islands. He says he is waiting there until he can meet up with his true love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) so the boys agree to help him. But is Mud all that he says?

Is it any good? A composed, well-shot, but rather slow coming-of-age drama. Thematically, comparisons with Huckleberry Finn and Whistle Down The Wind are inevitable, but this is also a kind of throwback to the type of lyrical film Hollywood produced in the 70s. It benefits from an outstanding central turn from Sheridan as the young lad struggling to understand the world and relationships around him. His naturalistic performance anchors the film and even McConaughey, turning in yet another fine performance in his continuing resurgence as a credible actor, plays second fiddle to him. Incidentally, Lofland, although less impressive, is a dead ringer for River Phoenix in Stand By Me, another film which is also brought to mind at times. So it has some interesting themes throughout about growing up, love and family relationships, but it's not as compelling as Nichols' previous film, the excellent Take Shelter, so I came away a little underwhelmed. Still, it's another assured film from him and it does have its moments, even if it takes its time getting to them.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Much acclaim, as critics once more took Nichols to their heart and remained flabbergasted by McConaughey's continuing run of fine performances over the last couple of years. Now, all he has to do is rise to the next challenge, which is to appear in a film without taking his shirt off. I mean, do we really need a man of his years to show us his perfectly toned body in film after film after film? Why doesn't he just cover up a...........well, folks, in a surprising turn of events I am now typing with some difficulty, having been viciously assaulted by a rabid band of enraged women who weren't best pleased with my suggestion that McConaughey cover himself up. Luckily, they calmed down when I offered to take off my own shirt and they let me off with a just a few broken fingers. Good job I'm so ripped.

What does the Fonz think? A Mississippi Mud Tye. It sounds like pie? Geddit? Tye? Pie? I'm wasted here.

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