Starring: Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey*, Reese Witherspoon
Written and Directed by: Jeff Nichols
My Rating: 8.3
Worth: 2 hours fully paying attention, cost of purchase
Clairometer: Holly Golightly
Two young boys give the most outstanding performances by "children" since Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider. They are witty, believably from the small river town in Arkansas, and they frankly steal the show from the main-credited and Golden Globe-winning dramatic actor under whose name the film was advertised. The main character Ellis, shows a side to young boys rarely seen in film. When young people play major roles in a film, nothing is more obvious than when adults write their perception of teenagers. Snotty, shallow, and bored are the three adjectives that come to mind. But thankfully, Jeff Nichols is different, and Ellis is special. Ellis is respectful, insightful, and active. The depth to his character is deeper than the river in which he resides. He is affected by old-fashioned stories of adventure, as are most teenagers. However, he sees as part of that adventure protecting a woman he loves. And what decent woman wouldn't love him back? He witnesses no one in his town embodying this archaic idea of romance and it rattles his sensibilities. Ellis then meets Mud, and finally sees a man in whom he can confide about his ideals.
Mud is an adventure story. It is a love story. And both sides to this story turn out to be far more complicated than a teenage boy is able to fully comprehend. How do we cope when someone on whom our foundations of life are built turns out to be fraudulent? What do we do when the entire world around us provides absolutely no indication that true love is forever, or even possible? Where do we turn when everyone around us fails to live up to our self-imposed standards for them? Mud teaches them that life is full of mistakes and momentary bliss, but as men they must fight for what they want. Ellis shows us a level of integrity only found in the rarest of heroes. Watch Mud and your perception of love and friendship will be slightly altered for ever after.
*In case you're thinking this is the first movie ever where he keeps his (lucky) shirt on, you're wrong. C'mon, It's still the same Matt. I'm pretty sure it's in his rider.