Mud: So Much Good Beneath the Surface—Movie

Something has happened to Matthew McConaughey and it’s all good. He’s making great acting choices in small movies and the results are stunning performances. Beginning in 2012 with “Magic Mike” and “Bernie,” this terrific streak continues into 2013 with “Mud.”Mud poster

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, “Mud” takes place on the Arkansas waterfront—the banks of the Mississippi—in DeWitt, Arkansas. Two young teens and best friends, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland ) have discovered a boat washed ashore…it’s actually hung up on a tree. While trying to dislodge the boat and take it for themselves, they encounter Mud (McConaughey), a disheveled mess of a man. Of the two boys, Ellis is the more romantic, and is intrigued by Mud, while Neckbone is more wary. However, both of them eventually agree to let Mud keep the boat and provide him with provisions on the sly. Over time, their help becomes less about food and more about friendship and thus increasingly dangerous…to them and Mud.

“Mud” is highly entertaining on so many levels. The story takes place in an area  we don’t often see and many viewers, including myself, don’t know much about. I had no idea that so many people lived in ramshackle houseboats as Ellis’. That aspect of the film is fascinating. One sidenote—these two boys might actually be the only boys in the United States who don’t use cell phones or computers. Never once do they make an appearance and it’s refreshing.

Absolutely fantastic acting is displayed throughout “Mud.” McConaughey seamlessly infuses his character with smarts, eloquence, fragility and sympathy. He is simply amazing. Matching him step for step is Tye Sheridan. Watching him become a man is performance to behold. Not far behind is Jacob Lofland. It will be fun to see what the future holds for these two young actors.

If ever a movie screams best ensemble cast, it is” Mud.” The supporting cast is second to none–Sam Shepard as Mud’s long-time friend; Reese Witherspoon as Mud’s girlfriend on the run; Sarah Paulson and Ray McKinnon as Ellis’ parents—all are just brilliant. After a long absence from the screen, Joe Don Baker makes a great return as a man from Mud’s past who wants him dead.

At first blush, Mud seems like a coming of age story…for Ellis and Neckbone. But it is more than that. It’s also the story of Mud’s coming of age and with it is Mathew McConaughey’s coming of age as an actor, too.

4 nuggets out of 4




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