2 boys, a boat, Mud and a whole lotta dirt! (More puns to follow)
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard and Michael Shannon.
Plot: Two 14 year old boys, Ellis, (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone, (Jacob Lofland) find a boat stuck in a tree on a small island a few miles from their hometown of De Witt, Arkansas. Upon reaching the boat, they find a fugitive named Mud, (Matthew McConaughey) who is trying to reunite with the love of his life Juniper, (Reese Witherspoon).
Writer/Director Jeff Nichols returns for his third feature film, and the announcement of this film definitely had me excited! After his masterpiece, ‘Take Shelter’, I will not miss any of his future films.
Nichols is definitely one of those film-makers that thrive on their own work, because I don’t see how anyone else could direct his writing or why he would direct a screenplay written by someone else.
Mud was screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and competed for the Palme d’Or. It was also shown at the Sundance Film Festival.
So, how does this compare to his previous film? It doesn’t, it’s a very different story but ‘Mud’ is just as brilliant!
The film begins with the plot in focus, and carries on without a moment’s pause. With no narration, the audience see everything unfold as the characters do and we’re with them every step of the way! What starts off as a simple journey turns into a life-changing experience. From the start to the end, Ellis and Neckbone learn about love, loss, happiness, sadness and all the other lessons life throws at you.
The premise is very promising, but the film only reaches its full potential with the introduction of McConaughey, who continues to prove his versatility as an actor and that his new direction into his career is one to watch – literally. He recently won the Academy Award for best actor, and he embodies that title in this film!
The overall cast is filled with great actors, and future stars, especially Sheridan, whose performance showed a lot of maturity and stands toe to toe with his more experienced co-stars. I cannot talk about the cast without mentioning the always brilliant Michael Shannon, who continues his collaboration with Nichols.
Inspired by Mark Twain, Jeff Nichols transforms an old fashioned story into a modern one, and like ‘Take Shelter’, has an American backdrop.
Cinematographer Adam Stone opted to go for a more personal experience using a Steadicam and packed away all the new toys that movies choose to use these days. With the brilliant execution of his photography, the audience are either on the island with Mud, or just simply along for the ride, and it only enriches the film even more.
Mud proves that you don’t need a complicated story, or any CGI to make a brilliant film! The audience are taken on this journey and are so fully immersed; you’ll forget to eat your popcorn. The fact that it’s a film so simply made, and yet so powerful is a testament to its pure cinematic quality. It’s what film-making is all about, and Jeff Nichols will surely have great successes in what promises to be a highly acclaimed career. To Matthew McConaughey’s rebirth, to that I say – “Alright, alright, alright!”