Mud, written and directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), follows a mysterious fugitive stuck on an island in the Mississippi River who enlists the aid of two Arkansas teenagers, Ellis (the adorable Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), to help him rebuild a boat so he can escape the island and reunite with the live of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).
Mud is played by the brilliant Matthew McConaughey, continuing his recent acting renaissance. When you think of Matthew McConaughey, you may think of his numerous romantic comedies including The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. In recent years, McConaughey decided to do away with formulaic movies and seek out challenging roles in smaller films like Magic Mike, Killer Joe, and the eagerly anticipated Dallas Buyers Club. As my mother puts it, because of this change, Matthew McConaughey will have an Oscar within the next two years (even though he should have had one for A Time to Kill).
As Mud, McConaughey is charismatic and gritty. The boys (and audience) easily become engrossed in his story of true love and want to help him get off the island, even if he is a cold-hearted killer. Reese Witherspoon is heartbreaking as daisy-duke wearing, tattooed Juniper, the love of Mud’s life. She’s trash, there’s no other way to put it. And even though Mud loves her and would do anything for her, she’s busy looking for the next big thing. Witherspoon and McConaughey only share one scene together, and even though there’s no dialogue their chemistry takes your breath away.
The real center of the story is Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan. Ultimately, Mud is a coming of age story. Ellis’ parents are in the process of splitting up and he’s caught in the middle. As a result, he develops this need to believe in true love. When Mud tells Ellis of his love for Juniper, it becomes Ellis’ mission to facilitate their reunion. When Juniper lets him down, Ellis is heartbroken. Sheridan’s emotional portrayal of Ellis’ breakdown is fantastic. This little man is going to be an actor to watch.
Along with McConaughey, Witherspoon, Sheridan, and Lofland, Mud rounds out with an excellent supporting cast including Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Sarah Paulson, and Ray McKinnon.
The trailer is below, enjoy!