Mud begins with two children heading off to find a boat which, rumour has it, has been stranded on a small island just a short way away from where they live. Once there though they find a rough and potentially dangerous Matthew McConaughey. And so begins a tale about, well many things, including children coming of age, love, violence, friendship, and man’s ability to bring about his own self-destruction. There’s a lot of different elements to this movie which at times feels like a crime drama and at others Stand By Me, but Nichols directs confidently and always keeps the focus on Mud‘s characters.
What’s best here is the film’s actors, everybody does a good to great job with McConaughey and child actor Tye Sheriden being the stand outs. One of the key films in bringing about McConaughey’s radical reinvention from cheesy rom-com star to now Oscar winner, he here adds a surprising level of intrigue and depth which does wonders for the film. His multifaceted character is as charming as he is enigmatic, and may well be the highlight of the film. Sheriden however seriously challenges McConaughey for the role of best actor here. He impresses as a child actor, but more importantly he impresses simply as an actor regardless of his age. He brings so much heart to a role which demands a lot from him and which he seemingly effortlessly transcends.
Unfortunately the film suffers most when it occasionally slips into formulaic writing which, whilst it doesn’t happen often, is pretty disappointing every time that it does happen. There’s nothing here which is film-breaking, but the slight lack of bravery does bring the film down a notch or two. Still, despite any flaws this film is one you really should see if you haven’t already. It’s a great example of what happens when you give a bunch of talented people great material to work with and an intelligent director to oversee them all. Mud is a film which, whilst best appreciated by adults, can be seen by just about anybody.
What is the film’s greatest strength? It’s a tough call but I’ll go with Sheriden’s performance.
Its greatest weakness? The occasional slips into formulaic writing.
Would I see it again? Yes it deserves to be seen again at some point.
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