Mud, with Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland & Reese Witherspoon. Director, Jeff Nichols. Once in a while, I will deign to see a film that stars children. McConaughey is also someone that I need to think twice about before attending. Though he is a good talent, there’s only so much of the folksy drama, that he exudes, that I can stomach. But I had planned earlier this year to catch this, thinking it would be my only Southern US, bayou, swamp, peasant whatever. My instincts were correct. Great film, stifling locations, charming coming-of-age story.
McConaughey’s mysterious, fugitive character is discovered by two typical boys, living on a river island in secret. Their inborn responses informing them of adventure & danger. One child, Sheridan, immediately sympathetic & the other, suspicious of the stranger’s intent. McConaughey plays this scallywag to the hilt. Just enough of a salty scoundrel, without being boring.
The morality of the story revolves around Sheridan, a considerate boy, whose proclivity to be a heart-breaker is more than apparent. Though the child isn’t necessarily the biggest extroverted, bubbly little actor that you’ll ever see; he is expressive enough for the part. I usually approve of children only being used as props, but showcasing this boy was a great idea. As a counteractive to McConaughey’s bluff & bluster.
The story was simple enough & there’s only so much cinematography that can happen on a lowland river. But the film includes two other side stories, lacing everything together into something acceptable. Appearances by Michael Shannon, lately reviewed in Man of Steel, & Sam Shepard, of Safe House, give this quiet & deliberate motion picture a sheen of “greatness”. McConaughey contributes his vitality; Sheridan & Lofland, their innocence. Witherspoon’s inclusion, as an elusive target; rounds everything out. Even though her character is supposed to be beautiful – & she is not.
I recommend this film for viewing. The ladies, among my readership, will be happy to know that McConaughey takes his shirt off, at least once.