Earlier this month I said that Matty McConaughey might get an Oscar nod for Mud. Seriously, check it out, because I said it.
Well, he delivered the best performance of his career. Whether or not he gets the Oscar nod, we will see. The Academy rarely remembers the great performances from early in the year, but does he deserve a nomination? Yes.
Two fourteen-year-old Arkansas boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), looking for adventure, discover a boat stuck in a tree on a remote island in the middle of the Mississippi River. Soon after finding the boat they realize a man is using this boat as a hideout. The man’s name is Mud (Matthew McConaughey) and Mud needs the boys’ help. Mud is hiding out and waiting to reunite with his girlfriend, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). The boys agree to help Mud, by bringing him supplies, not knowing what type of people he is hiding from. Through everything, we watch Ellis begin to fully understand the complications of love, and the existence of heartbreak. He soon learns that things are not as simple as he’s always believed. Meanwhile, Mud might not be everything that he seems.
As I stated in an earlier post, I was not a fan of ‘Take Shelter’, and Jeff Nichols, needed to prove himself. Well, ‘Mud’ was head and shoulders better than Nichols’ previous work. However, I wasn’t sold from the start. It took me a little while to get completely lost in ‘Mud’. Honestly, for the first half hour I thought, “This is going to be another slightly color de-saturated indie movie that is good but not great.” Because, lets be honest, there are a ton of movies that fall into that category. But, ‘Mud’ really begins to picks up speed after the first act and I credit the character development for that.
The acting was great; Matt really delivered the goods and you could tell he was going all out for this one. So, hopefully he gets rewarded for it. I was very impressed with the young talent of Sheridan, who starts slow and gets lost in the mix, but really picks up near the climax. However, it was Jacob Lofland as “Neckbone” who steals the show. He was easily the most memorable character and adds subtle humor the dramatic situation. Both Michael Shannon and Reese Witherspoon were fantastic, but for such a long movie they did not get enough screen time.
‘Mud’ was very effective in illustrating the simple lifestyles that our protagonists lived. It was a very “work hard to feed your family and tend to your business” type lifestyle, which allows our characters to show their true colors without any superficiality.
The film’s most effective lesson is also its weakest in way. The underlying theme of the film is how love is different than it is portrayed in fairytales. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s not pretty. Well, the dynamics of adult relationships were superb; ‘Mud’ hit a homerun with those. But, it was the adolescent love story that really seemed underdeveloped. With a runtime of 130 minutes, there should not be anything that is underdeveloped.
‘Mud’ is a film that makes you feel good about people. It demonstrates the toughness it takes to bounce back from adversity and how second chances are parts of life. It will make you leave the theater questioning your priorities and lifestyle.
‘Mud’ was better than I thought it was going to be. It was long, but it didn’t feel very long. The characters were developed and relatable. With a 2+ hour runtime there are few things story-wise that I would have liked to see done faster and better. That is really the only thing that makes ‘Mud’ a really good film instead of a great film. Either way, I was impressed, entertained and I would recommend it to any fan of story-driven indie films.