Matthew McConaughey continues his impressive streak of film roles starring in “Mud,” director Jeff Nichols’ Mark Twain-esque Southern tale about two boys and an island-dwelling convict.
Set in a small Arkansas town, the film is about Ellis (Tye Sheridan), a bored teenage boy who lives on the Mississippi River in a houseboat with his parents (Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson). Along with his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), Tye find a strange and superstitious man named Mud (McConaughey). Mud enlists the boys to bring him food and tools in order to bring down a salvageable boat that somehow ended up in a tree.
While the movie implies that Mud is the central character, the movie is more of a coming-of-age story that mainly focuses on the boys as they go around their town helping Mud in various ways including sending notes to his true love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), who may or may not feel for the same way about him.
McConaughey turns in another terrific performance as he plays another complex character. Mud has his heart in the right place even if his good intentions result in murder and having him being chased by bounty hunters. Despite the great ensemble that Nichols has put together including Michael Shannon and Sam Shepard, the movie really belongs to Sheridan and Lofland as they portray their characters with some raw authenticity. When Ellis punches a bully, it shows the moviegoers how Ellis brave and courageous will be when he grows up.
Cinematographer Adam Stone, who helped created unbelievable images in Nichols’ previous film “Take Shelter,” creates some great images in this film like Mud’s footprints in the sand and showcases the Mississippi River and the Arkansas landscape in a beautiful and unique way. “Mud” unravels at a slow pace and it literally takes its time in its 130-minute running time to establish the characters, which hinders the film. As soon as Nichols slowly unravels why Mud is on the run, it quickly turns into a Southern thriller that includes a climatic shootout that looks like it was taken from a different movie.
Although the movie has a slow pace and a contrived scene that seem out of a place, “Mud” is a Southern coming-of-age tale that features a good ensemble and terrific performances from McConaughey, Sheridan and Lofland.
“Mud” is now playing at AMC Aventura 24, AMC Sunset Place 24, Paragon Grove 13 and Regal South Beach Stadium 18. Click here for showtimes.