By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) are growing up in a small southern community along the Mississippi river. One day the boys sneak out early in the morning to find a boat trapped in a tree after a flood in the area. When the boys reach the boat, which is mostly intact, they find Mud (Matthew McConaughey) a mysterious man living out of the boat. Mud asks the boys to bring him food, and tells them he’s waiting for someone. The boys decide to help Mud, and before too long find out that he’s hiding out from the law. Ellis is particularly intrigued by the disheveled man, who presents a fairly sympathetic case for his crimes. And as his parent’s marriage threatens to break up, Ellis reaches out to Mud in friendship.
what could possibly go wrong?
Director Jeff Nicols has created a very self-assured film that merges mystery with blue-collar drama. Mud has all sense of childlike wonder and discovery of a Spielberg movie, without the romanticism. The film takes great advantage of the contrast between life by the river and in the city.
The young actors who play Ellis and Neckbone are true revelations, delivering solid performances that could have carried the film on its own. On top of this, however is Matthew McConaughey’s fascinating turn as the eponymous Mud. Mud is driven to desperation by his love for his on-again off-again girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), who manipulates Mud into defending her honor. McConaughey has had a winning streak going recently, with fascinating character after character in indie films, bringing an effective end to the joke his career once appeared.
Ok, maybe “appeared” isn’t a strong enough term.
The film has a solid supporting turn in Ray McKinnon as Ellis’ father. McKinnon is best known as Reverend Smith from the first season of HBO’s Deadwood. He has appeared in many small film and television roles, and is perhaps one of the great unknown character actors in Hollywood.
Just don’t ask him to recite bible verse…
Michael Shannon has a very small role as Neckbone’s Uncle and guardian. Michael Shannon steals the few scenes he’s in, as a deeply strange father figure who plays the Beach Boys’ “Help me, Rhonda” when he has female company. Shannon, like McKinnon, is an actor who elevates all material he’s given.
An immensely entertaining and suspenseful movie mixed with coming of age themes, while avoiding romantic trappings.
Take a Drink: when Ellis punches someone
Take a Drink: for Michael Shannon (any scene he’s in is a bonus)
Do a Shot: in honor of Reese Witherspoon, whose naturalistic performance is eclipsed only by her Charity event for the Georgia State Police.
This Mugshot won the Grand Jury prize