Ellis and Neckbone are two 14-year-old best friends, looking for adventure and purpose in their small Southern town. They find it in a man named Mud, an outlaw on the run from bounty hunters and police, as they befriend him and agree to help him reunite and run away with his one true love, Juniper.
Mud is the perfect summer movie, steeped mile high in Southern charm. Director Jeff Nichols recreates adolescent summer, with long days and first loves. The coming-of-age genre is a staple for most film lovers, but Mud might be the best one since Stand By Me. Few films perfectly encapsulate what it feels like to be in between childhood and adulthood, and Mud does just that with its unique blend of mystery and nostalgia.
Writing and directing both Take Shelter and Mud, Nichols has certainly made a name for himself in the directors-to-watch category. Mud is poetic and haunting, much like Take Shelter. I felt the summer breeze, I smelled the swamp, and I heard the snakes slithering through the grass. It is a film that stays with you in feeling and in tone. At this point, I’d be okay with Nichols directing the next ten films I watched.
Playing Mud, Matthew McConaughey gives another charismatic performance. I personally love this new Matthew McConaughey – this cool, indie, take chances McConaughey. Mud is one ambiguous character, and McConaughey hits all the right notes to keep you guessing. Being likable as a weirdo hiding out in the woods befriending two boys is a hard thing to do, but he accomplishes it, helping ground the story in an honest and believable way.
The two young leads, Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland, are naturals. Their camaraderie made me long for the pals of my childhood. They aren’t over-rehearsed, and they carry the film’s narrative with ease and maturity. In a relatively smaller role, Reese Witherspoon plays Juniper with everything she’s got. The same can be said for Sam Shepard, who never fails to disappoint.
Nichols writes and directs original stories that are fantastical and human – stories that teeter on the boundaries of this world and another. Mud has the perfect blend of intrigue, suspense, and heart.
Is Mud Opening Weekend Worthy?
I think my out pour of unashamed gushing answers this question. Mud is like a really good book you wish had one more chapter. You will not be ready to part with any of the characters by the time the credits roll.