Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Mud is a coming of age tale starring Matthew McConaughey in the titular role which shares the story of two boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), living in Dewitt, Nebraska that visit a small island in the Mississippi River on an exploration expedition and find a small boat perched on the high limbs of a tree, probably from a past flood, and despite their plans for ownership quickly realize someone is living there, Mud. After a tense introduction, Mud beseeches the boys for food and supplies, in exchange for the promise that upon leaving the island the boat he's currently using as home will be theirs. Despite Neckbone's protestations, Ellis comes to Mud's aid and brings him food. Finding an ally in the young boy, Mud shares a dramatic tale of love, woe and murder. Relying on Ellis' idealized and romantic notions on love, Mud asks the boys for help in getting word to his true love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), with whom he's supposed to rendezvous and leave town. The stakes are raised as all communications have to be under the shadow of an outstanding police APB for Mud, as well as a crew of henchmen on Mud's hot pursuit.

Completely drawn in by Mud's charm, the boys wholeheartedly throw themselves into reuniting the two star-crossed lovers, by gathering supplies to patch up the boat in hopes of ensuring Mud and Juniper's escape. As Ellis and Neckbone get deeper and deeper into Mud's sordid tale of doomed love, they blindly put themselves in harm's way, all in the hopes of helping their newfound friend finally find the redemptive power of love.

I wanted to watch this movie to see McConaughey stretch himself in a more substantive role that veered away from his typical romantic leading man roles of the past, and I wasn't disappointed. Mud was an entertaining and engaging film with a wonderful performance by McConaughey, who seems to have found a new found confidence in his acting and is no longer relying on his pretty boy looks to woo audiences. McConaughey gives a complex performance of a man beaten down by life, love and his own mistakes; a man who isn't clearly good or evil, but who falls somewhere in those grey areas.

The film also offers a memorable breakout performance by Tye Sheridan, whom I had never seen act before but who I learned was cast in the role of Ben Day in the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Dark Places. Tye movingly brings to life Ellis' idealistic innocence and hopefulness in his performance, and is even more compelling and believable in his portrayal of sad disillusionment in the scenes involving his parents broken marriage. Both child leads bring to life on the screen a Huck Finn-like adventure filled with daring, danger and self-discovery.

While Mud isn't on par with some of my recent movie viewings, like Captain Phillips or All is Lost, it was nonetheless a touching and engaging story with compelling and, in the kids, lovable characters, and believable and thought-provoking performances from the entire cast which definitely make it one to watch next time you're trolling your OnDemand movie queue.