Mud FeaturedWritten by Jon Patch
Lionsgate, Everest Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment and Brace Cove Productions present a PG-13, 130 minute, drama, directed and written by Jeff Nichols with a theater release date of April 26, 2013.
Two young fourteen year boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) are best friends in a small Arkansas town. Ellis lives with his mother (Sarah Paulson) and his father (Ray McKinnon) on a make-shift house boat on the Mississippi river. Neckbone lives with his Uncle Galen (Michael Shannon) in a small trailer who makes his living by diving for oysters in search of pearls. The boys are best friends and spend most of their time together when not doing chores at home. One morning Ellis and Neckbone head out to an island on the river where Ellis shows Neckbone a boat stuck high within a tree, a remnant of a one-time flood in the past. What they eventually find in the boat which they hope to claim as their own is that they are not alone. Soon thereafter they meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey) a man with a huge hunger, dirty clothes, tattoos, broken teeth, a caliber 45 in the back of his pants and a list of secrets the boys hope to unravel.
The boys and Mud make a deal he’ll forfeit claim on the boat if they supply him with food until Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) shows up to take him off the island but that won’t be for yet another few days. On a small island filled with spiders, birds and snakes the boys spend a lot of time forging a relationship with Mud, Ellis more than Neckbone. As the story unfolds of why Mud is on the island the boys learn that Juniper is Mud’s true love and one day to defend her honor Mud created an illegal act and Carver (Paul Sparks), King (Joe Don Baker) and a group of their men, men of prayer are out for revenge against Mud hence the reason for Mud hiding out. Thanks to Ellis and Neckbone Mud is able to get a letter to Juniper asking for her to hold tight but things never seem to go quite as planned. Even a friend of Mud’s Tom Blankenship (Sam Shepard) doesn’t seem to be quite the help he hoped for at least not in the beginning. Ellis is a young boy growing into a man with needs of his own so he meets May Pearl (Bonnie Sturdivant) a girl in town who happens to be a bit older than he and quite the bundle of trouble. So along with his relationship with May Pearl, his secrets with Mud and his home life that has taken a turn for the worse Ellis tries to understand the meaning of love and if that four letter word is truly worth the efforts one person must go through in order to achieve it.
In the end, Ellis gets his answers, life moves on, some lives end and the sun actually does shine on a dog’s ass some days and along with change in some people’s lives comes a sea of open water where the trust in friends proves that love can exist in many different forms.
The story is about 20 minutes too long but yet it has a wholesome feel to it that makes you become invested in one person in particular, Ellis. Even though the direction and photography is enchanting it is the characters in the story that will keep you invested in this film. McConaughey definitely shines in this film with more expressions and movements than actual dialogue. Witherspoon as my friend Brad stated is less annoying and I must say I hear what he’s saying, she really played the abused lover well living in a motel awaiting her fate. Paulson and McKinnon are a good edition to the story line but thankfully not the main focus although they both played their roles with a sense of believability. Shepard, Sparks, Baker, Shannon and Sturdivant are all supporting characters to the story and help to move it along although sometimes their appearances might have been better with a little less rather than more. It is Lofland and Sheridan that steal this film giving the story a sense of old school film making like with “Stand By Me” which contains more storyline and less bells and whistles. Ironically Lofland kept reminding me of River Phoenix with is backwoods country charm and rugged looks. Hands down though the main attraction here is Sheridan who really adds a bolt of lightning to the story making it shine every time he appears on screen, this is a young man we will be seeing much more of in Hollywood. Albeit the film moves at its own pace but it is at least enjoyable even if a bit raw at times but meaningful portrayals of life in a small town by the lead actors make it worth seeing. Written and appreciated with 2 paws out of four by Jon Patch.