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Mud: Captivating Coming-of-Age Drama

  • Matthew McConaugheyReese Witherspoon...
  • Drama
  • Out now
  • Jeff Nichols
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Mud: Captivating Coming-of-Age Drama

Heavily influenced by the writings of the notorious American author, Mark Twain, Austin-born, critically acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker, Jeff Nichols, is yet to put forward a film worthy of ridicule and contempt.

Set in the Deep South alongside the Mississippi River, Mud follows the story of fourteen-year old Ellis (Sheridan) and his best friend, Neckbone (Lofland). Ellis, desperate to escape from the walls of his ever-quarrelling parents, spends his days cruising on Neckbone’s motor boat, and together, they soon find themselves an adventure.

Finding themselves on an uninhabited island in the middle of the river, the boys make it their mission to discover more about a seemingly abandoned boat, suspended high up in a tree. Innocently thinking the boat will make a perfect tree-house, they climb up to explore their new secret habitat but are surprised to learn that somebody is already living in it.

Meet Mud (McConaughey); a rogue-looking, wolf-worshipping, mysterious man whose criminal past initially portrays him as a potentially dangerous character in the story. However, Ellis immediately warms to the convict-in-hiding and, in exchange for the tree-house boat, the boys agree to help reunite him with long-term lover, Juniper (Witherspoon). Leading them on an unexpected road of self-discovery, the narrative is fixed largely on the boys; Ellis in particular.

Mud transpired to be a mesmerizing, coming-of-age story, told with a heavy Southern drawl through the naïve eyes of a fourteen-year old boy. Sheridan shows incredible amount of willpower, talent and overall magnetism; the young actor had very little trouble in carrying the film through.

Following his acclaimed turn in The Lincoln Lawyer, McConaughey delivers another performance to remember. But the film’s heart doesn’t lie with him or Juniper – wonderfully portrayed by a weathered-looking Witherspoon. Nor does it sit with the rest of a super-talented cast that includes Shannon, Shepherd, McKinnon and Paulson.  Mud belongs to the boys. Sheridan, alongside Lofland’s superb depiction of the potty-mouthed and indifferent Neckbone, is what makes Mud quiet the masterpiece.

Moody, intense and incredibly poetic, Nichols, paints the aesthetics with an earthy undertone, making everything about Mud seem organic and remarkably natural. It’s a slow moving yet incredibly alluring picture, with the cold undercurrent of the Mississippi river acting as a wonderfully placed metaphor to the hardships of growing up. This gripping drama portrays the innocence of youth and love, and will have you in its grasp long after the credits roll.

Like This? Try

Take Shelter (2011), Shotgun Stories (2007), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960)

360 Tip

All of Nichols’ films include the immensely talented American actor and musician, Michael Shannon.

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