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I saw it in Cannes a few days ago, and what a beautiful and strong
And what a shame this movie didn't get the Golden Palm!!!
I don't want to spoil this movie, but I can just say it's a rare and beautiful movie about love, friendship, nature and wildness. Very sensitive, touching.
The cast is great, Reese Whiterspoon, Matthew McConaughey, and the two children.
Great photography too, with great shots of the Mississippi (among others).
I'm looking forward to see Jeff Nichols' next project!
"You gotta watch yourself." Mud (Matthew McConaughey)
In fact, everyone needs to watch himself, mostly the eponymous fugitive and almost so the 14 year olds Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who aid the murderer Mud as he connects with his lost love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) and evades bounty hunters and irate family members of his victim. Everyone seems to be running from something.
This crisp thriller and psychological study can be enjoyed on two levels: First, it's a darn good chase story with Mud being pursued by bad guys and Mud chasing his love; second, it's a coming-of-age story as the boys, especially Ellis, sift through adult lies and compromises and their own growing sense of love's importance. That love covers parent for child, friend for friend, and boy for girl.
Although writer-director Jeff Nichols may be trying to do too much with those themes, he succeeds in crafting characters we really care about whose arcs promise to extend beyond the story, embracing universals that extend beyond rural Arkansas. So important is the river to the boys that inquisitive and ornery Huck Finn is as close as the next bend in the river.
While the title could represent the dirty little world of sin on the river, it also suggests the primal stuff from which Eve was made. Women are the central metaphor for the boys, who already know girls must be dealt with before boys can be called men. Yet, beyond dealing with the opposite sex, they must decide who's good and who's evil, regardless of gender.
That consideration starts with family and moves to the family of man. That's quite a lot for a little film. It delivers. If my comments don't convince you to see this indie gem, then consider the supporting cast of Michael Shannon, Reese Witherspoon, Joe Don Baker, and Sam Shepard. You'll crab there's not enough of each one, and that's all good. And I'm not just slinging mud.
Mud was very well-received by a packed house at the Paramount Theatre for its Regional Premiere at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. The crowd particularly loved local favorites director Jeff Nichols and the always shape-shifting Matthew McConaughey. (How is it possible that McConaughey hasn't even been nominated for an Oscar yet?) Mud is a charming, entrancing film that has almost lyrical quality as it unfolds along the rural backwoods of Arkansas's Mississippi River. The story revolves around the adventures of two young teenage boys who meet a mysterious drifter appropriately named Mud. Mud is hiding out an island in the Mississippi River awaiting the arrival of his beloved Juniper. The story has elements of drama, thriller, and romance. While the film is slightly too long and the story has a few unnecessary and distracting subplots, its overall eloquence and is absorbing. So like the Mississippi, the story meanders a little too much. The River setting becomes a character in the film that shapes the drama playing out along it. The two teenage actors are excellent, but the film is tour-de-force for McConaughey who is its heart and soul. Highly recommended for those who like serious drama and appreciate natural beauty.
Engaging an audience in a truly captivating sense of wonder is a lost
art form in the realm of cinema, or at least it has become so rare that
we begin to forget how magical the silver screen experience can be. One
of those rare filmmakers is writer and director Jeff Nichols who made
great strides in inventive filmmaking with his second feature Take
Shelter, a deeply unsettling and atmospheric thriller that reminded us
that the potential for original storytelling can have equally creative
follow through. Writer/director Jeff Nichols' latest atmospheric drama
Mud continues his notable prestige for dramatic filmmaking by creating
a pure slice of Americana; an evocative and poignant coming of age tale
that borrows the lyricism of Tennessee Williams works and mixes them
with the harmonious sensitivity of a Sam Shepard play, who is
ironically enough in a supporting role in the film, creating a witty
and insightful modern day Mark Twain influenced adventure. Keeping his
respectful gaze on rural America, Nichols creates an intimate
reflection on friendship, unrequited love, and youthful discovery with
a rhythmic, sensitive approach towards life's realizations during
childhood. Mud is one of those films where all of the creative outlets
from the ethereal cinematography to the haunting cinematic score come
together in perfect unison to highlight the depth within the story
being told. The film unveils its inner soul with a purposefully
meditative pace that might deter some from experiencing a thoughtful
approach but that would be a drastic mistake because it's one of the
more authentically creative and emotionally opulent movies to grace the
theaters in a long while. In Mud we're not only witnessing the artistic
stamp of a director who has found his distinct voice but also the final
stages of resurrection in the acting career of Matthew McConaughey who
has never been more focused or impassioned on the screen. While Mud
might not be as finely woven as his sophomore effort Take Shelter there
is no denying his latest drama's penchant for compelling drama enhanced
by the heartfelt nature of the writing, the clarity in the visuals, and
the honesty in all of the acting performances.
Read more: http://wp.me/py8op-xV; More reviews: Generationfilm.net
This is a movie that stays with you. It's a real movie about people,
and a place--not car chases and explosions. I don't agree with the
mixed reviews and complaints about the length of the movie. Matthew
McConnahey is well-cast. All of the actors do a good work; Reese
Witherspoon, Sam Sheppard. Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland do a great
job playing the child characters. The Mississippi river is like a
character in the movie, which evokes Huckleberry Finn, as others have
noted. The settings are magnificent. In a sea of manufactured movies,
it's nice to see something that was crafted by human beings. I would
recommend this movie to those who are interested.
The audience in the theater I was in seemed absorbed.
I went into "Mud" with no idea of what it was about. I immediately had
flashbacks to "Stand By Me". That said, I think "Mud" is a better
movie. I thought the acting was exceptional, the photography both real
and lush, the lighting well done, and the story was fresh, real, and
terrific. The direction MUST have been terrific also, as the result is
a near-perfect film that everyone can and should enjoy.
The 2 young actors (playing the characters of Ellis and Neckbone) were amazing -- especially Tye Sheridan playing the lead character, Ellis. Sam Shepherd was great as Ellis' "assassin" neighbor (and longtime friend of Mud), the actor who played Ellis' dad was TERRIFIC and stole every scene he was in. Reese Witherspoon was only on film for perhaps 10 minutes but she was perfect as Mud's white-trash girlfriend. And this was Matthew McConaughey's best job EVER. (Until now only his role in The Lincoln Lawyer was good to my mind, and I was tired of his constant good-old-pretty-boy act in everything else!) I hope it was not made too early to get consideration for the Academy Awards next year. Although it's a lowish-budget independent film, "Mud" is sure to become a classic! I saw it the other night with my wife... and I plan to see it again soon with my teenage son.
Instantaneously, Mud brought me back to days past when my friend and I
would explore the woods near my house. The woods were by no means deep,
located closely to a golf-course and an apartment complex, but they
were all that we had and we loved them. We'd be on the hunt for golf
balls, and would often stumble upon such "treasures" as rubber tires,
potpourri, cigarette butts, beer bottles, and broken glass. Upon
finding them, we'd make up stories on how they got there, and often, if
we had a sleepover, listen for teenagers, bums, or whoever may be out
there in the middle of the night leaving such objects.
Unfortunately, our closeted adventures and theories never amounted to anything but spur-of-the-moment daydreams. If only we could've had an experience like the characters in Jeff Nichols' Mud, a fantastic drama centered on growing up in the deep south. And yet, such an oversimplification may lead potential viewers to think it's a story they've seen many times before, when really, the film's multiple angles allow it to be looked at and enjoyed in several different ways. This is, simply put, one of the best, most wonderful films of the year.
The story narrows in on the likes of Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), two fourteen year olds hungering for adventure, girls, and excitement in their lives. Ellis lives with his miserable father and his unsatisfied mother, while Neckbone resides with his womanizing uncle. They discover on an island located distally from their home that there is a large boat stuck in a tree, housing food and pornographic magazines showing signs that someone lives there. That man, they find, is Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a fugitive housing a checkered past and now making due with little in the middle of nowhere, attempting to reconnect with his love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).
The boys decide to help Mud reconnect with her and reside out in the middle of nowhere, until it becomes apparent that because the entire town is plastered with his pictures that he needs to get out. What unfolds is a beautiful tale of love, coming-of-age hardships, and family issues that result in a wholesome, gritty exercise that provides for numerous emotions to take fold.
One questions the motive of the boys to continue to help Mud, even after discovering what horror he committed. Because Ellis's parents are enduring hellish circumstances and losing love in one another, his commitment to helping Mud find Juniper seems stronger than Neckbone's because he doesn't want to see a couple who should be together remain distant. This is one of the many lenses you can see Mud through. The film is such a visceral, multi-layered experience that each person has the ability to find something different or subtly unique that lies within the story's seemingly direct roots.
Even after Nichols enthralling Take Shelter, which headlined Michael Shannon who is present in a small role here, he continues to have a growing fascination with skylines and the rural environment that his characters reside in. He seems to take a deep satisfaction in the presence of sleepy towns, beautiful, limitless skies, glowing sunlight, quickly-forming clouds, and the dustiness and wholesomeness of the south's environment. Scarcely has such a simple coming-of-age film achieved the beauty and majestic look that Mud effortlessly concocts.
Although it is not a tense, pulse-racing epic, the film still plays something like the kinds of "fugitive-on-the-loose" pictures you'd see from the early seventies. It still has that questionable uncertainty in its premise that allows it to be worthily thought of as the kind of film where the mystifying fugitive turns out to be something a bit more than a loser, but the way Nichols presents Mud is anything but the sappy sob-story we sort of expect.
And finally, Mud can be simply seen as a rural coming-of-age story, not far off from the likes of Rob Reiner's impeccable Stand By Me, which, too, centered on young kids become more unified because of a dangerous adventure. There's nothing wrong with looking at Mud simplistically, as a drama centered around early-teenagers, because even when you do that, you still get a wonderful, more-than-complete package with performances that are enriching and an adventure that's unbelievable. Matthew McConaughey, again, gives an astonishingly capable performance after coming off of the likes of the beautifully quirky Bernie, the unfairly-ostracized Magic Mike, and the haunting, yet enigmatic Killer Joe. It's safe to say that McConaughey has made enough money so that he can shy away from the pathetic romantic-comedy or dull actioneer in favor of riskier, more reclusive projects that test him as an actor. Teaming up with Jeff Nichols was certainly the right bet, as this is closest to the most perfect movie experiences I've had all year.
NOTE: My video review of Mud, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdnX_uIL6tM Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Joe Don Baker, and Michael Shannon. Directed by: Jeff Nichols.
It isn't fair compare this title directly to other films, but I will
anyway. So here goes: Huck Finn with a dash of Deliverance, Winters
Bone, and Tree of Life. By the way, I hated Tree of Life, which WAS
beautiful but entirely too experimental for my liking (I would have
been fine with it as an exhibit at a modern art museum). But Mud is a
film that is a pleasure to look at, and also has a fantastic story that
weaves in poverty, youth, the loss of innocence, love, and violence.
The life in a small town depiction is completely spot on. I am from a small town (West, Texas, which recently experienced the tragic explosion), and the people, locations, and attitudes are completely believable. Anyone who was a boy in a rural area will really connect with the story.
The writing and directing is brilliant. It is the perfect blend of pacing, dialog, and action. The acting all around is top notch. Matthew McConaughey delivers an Oscar caliber performance; I liked this even more than his role in Frailty (which if you are looking for a great suspense / thriller, that is a must-watch). Supporting characters are completely effective and convincing. The actors playing the two boys deliver amazing performances; I suspect we will be seeing this young men for decades to come.
I am hoping that this movie gets recognized as the outstanding piece of film that it is. It is gorgeous to watch, and the locations feel far, far away from a Hollywood studio. But this is not just a pretty "art" film; it has an outstanding story that will grip you from start to finish.
In summary, I kinda liked it ... A+, a rare and solid 10!
Jeff Nichols' new film "Mud" is essentially a coming-of-age tale, but
it borrows liberally elements of neo-noir, Southern Gothic and
melodrama while being filmed as if it was based on some great novel
that was never written. It makes for a ripping good yarn that should
please a wide audience thirsty for drama with a bit of heart and some
sentimentality (without ever being sappy).
The cast works extremely well together under Nichols' direction with McConaughey delivering an Oscar worthy performance as a troubled man hiding out on an island in the Mississippi River who is discovered by two young teenage boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland in two winning performances).
You won't want much more spoiled before seeing it. Highly recommended.
Check out full reviews at theschleicherspin.com
Two boys make their way along the Mississippi River to an island where
they find a boat up a tree, however they quickly discover that they are
not alone. A mysterious man is living on the island and when they
encounter him, their adventure gets a lot more serious.
The setting for this film is the Mississippi River. It dominates this film as it dominates the lives of the main characters in this film. This is not a film about small-town America. There is a small town, in which everyone knows everyone, but most of the action takes place out of town, out on the river, and out in the uninhabited areas of the river's ecosystem. The two fourteen year old boys and their families, are river people, making a precarious living from the river. Life is hard but the people are hard-working, honest and resourceful. If Mark Twain was writing now, and had not been seduced into doing graphic novels, these are the people he would be writing about. In fact, this film does homage to Mark Twain; Huckleberry Finn was based on a childhood friend of Mark Twain's called Tom Blankenship, the name of a character in this film. This film then, essentially, is a modern up-date of that genre.
The two boys are played superbly by Ty Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. Their characters are fourteen-years old, hardened and matured by their environment. The two actors seem believable and natural in their roles. Chris Pine was originally considered for the role of the mysterious stranger, and with his blue eyes and young looks, he would have looked attractive and charismatic as he encountered the boys. I bet he wishes he had been in this well-scripted film. However Pine's loss is Matthew McConaughey's gain. Robinson Crusoe was never like this. I doubt if Pine could play this as well as McConaughey, who lives this role. Actor? This guy looks like he has done nothing, but, live on the river, all his life. You totally believe he is living on this island. If there was a Best Eating Baked Beans Oscar, he would get it! A totally convincing performance! All performances were great. Not just of McConaughey and the two boys, but of all the supporting actors too. At first you are unsure who is who in the families. They seem a little cold but as the film progresses the characters develop. All are believable. The female roles, there are three, are all strong and well developed. The lovely Reese Witherspoon, star of 'Legally Blonde', like Sharon Stone in 'Casino', shows here that she can play a gritty role. Youngest actress, Bonnie Sturdivant, like the boys, got it just right. Older actors too were great; Sam Shepard, who played his role with some depth, and it was good to see Joe Don Baker in a small role.
All actors played their roles convincingly. As said, their lives are hard; they are plain-speaking people, however the occasional bit of laconic home-spun philosophy, will also be said.
This movie is beautifully filmed, lovely rich colours. The river is filmed lovingly, so too the way of life. The film is a homage to the life and the river. However while we see beautiful scenes of the river, we see too the grittier scenes of urban decay and dereliction and waste. All filmed well.
The UK rating of this film is 12A, though this reviewer thinks it unsuitable for anyone under 14 years of age. There are many different threads and themes to this film and it is unclear what will be resolved. Friendship, family, life and death, love and violence are all explored. The adult themes are not hidden. The boys have to try figure out the truth and act accordingly. The film is very much seen through their eyes. However we do see a little bit more than the boys see. What is the truth? What to do? The truth is not very clear, clear as mud, perhaps. No real judgement is made about the truth, or the characters, or their decisions. Their lives are too rich and complex for that sort of simplistic verdict.
So at the end of this film, a fourteen year old boy may have learnt something, and others, so too may you. 10/10.
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