Saturday 23 November 2013

Review: Mud

Year: 2012 (U.K Release Date 2013)
Director:  Jeff Nichols
Screenplay:  Jeff Nichols
Starring:  Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon.

Synopsis is here:

The man whose been known for learning on cheesy film posters continues his reinvention with yet another sun-kissed, deep fired southern performance. Matthew McConaughey used to be a named that would strike certain film fans with fear.  Whether McConaughey sacked his agent or just started rejecting the easier script, now, we have a leading man who isn’t afraid to take risks and skew with that honey smooth charm that he is known for.

McConaughey plays Mud; a mysterious drifter who befriends two young boys and drags them into the fractured world of adult relationships. Ellis (A sweet yet commanding display by Sheridan); the more dominant of the two boys, has had his life flitter around such troubled matters through his parents, but his wish to help the enigmatic Mud hurtles his transition to adulthood into overdrive.

Much like A Room for Romeo Brass (1999), we have two boys who encounter a man who appears to be locked in arrested development. As Mud resists confronting himself and his past which has finally caught up with him, the boys have their own ideals challenged because of it. Like Romeo Brass what makes the dynamic so engaging is how Nichols, like Meadows, develops this story and characters such a rich atmosphere. The cold overcast hues of Nichols’ Take Shelter have been replaced by golden hues. Mud’s tanned skin seems to match the background, becoming part of the backwater Arkansas’ setting. When Mud first appears, it’s if by magic, suddenly drifting into view, as if he’s always been there as part of the thrown out furniture. The more the boys learn, the more that Mud becomes a cautionary tale. Such broken hearted stories feel part and parcel of people’s lives in these parts.

Both Ellis and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) are industrious and pure of heart protagonists who, like Moonrise Kingdom, are thrown into the messy and childish lives of adults. Mud shows them a well worn path and the two’s reactions against the tide are what makes the film worthwhile.  The plot is not as balanced as Take Shelter, and the sub-plots are a little undercooked. But Nichols draws wonderfully natural performances from his cast and enriches the drama with gorgeous cinematography to create a sensitive and good natured piece of American cinema that people still honestly believe doesn’t exist. More fool them.