Matthew McConaughey has been on one hell of a roll for the past couple of years. It’s almost reached a point where if he’s in a film it’s basically a foregone conclusion that it’s going to be good and Mud is no different.
The film follows two boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), and the events that occur after they stumble upon a boat stuck on an island in the Mississippi River. Unfortunately for them the boat is occupied by Mud (Matthew McConaughey) who later turns out to be a fugitive who is forced to live on the island in a desperate attempt to avoid the authorities. The boys agree to help him fix the boat so he can escape.
Often young/child actors are more of a hindrance to a production than they are a benefit but in the case of Mud this was certainly not the case. Tye Sheridan is especially impressive in what I consider to be the lead role. To say one of the themes in the film is ‘coming of age’ would be an understatement. The character of Ellis seems to grow up several years in the span of a few days because of his experiences and this wouldn’t be possible without the strength of Sheridan’s performance.
McConaughey is also truly excellent. His performance as the mysterious yet loving titular character is on par with his Oscar winning role in Dallas Buyers Club in my opinion and it is certainly worth watching the film just see an actor at the top of their game as McConaughey is right now. There are also several smaller roles dotted throughout the film. Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon and Reese Witherspoon give really solid performances when they are on-screen but it’s a testament to how good Sheridan and McConaughey are that these A-List actors just seem to sink into the background.
It would also be very unfair not to mention Jeff Nichol’s directing. Much of the film is set on the Mississippi River and Nichol’s uses this setting extremely well with exceptional landscape and tracking shots to make the full glory of this natural setting obvious to the viewer.
However, I did have a few minor issues with this film. The pace of this film is quite slow and methodical which would be alright it if weren’t quite so long. Also, the ending, which I will describe in the vaguest terms possible, made very little sense to me and it just led to certain characters acting in a way that due to the rest of the film seems unfathomable.
This didn’t really spoil the film for me though because for two hours it was absolutely unquestionably fantastic and in many ways I believe that in years to come, people will look back at this film as one of the strongest performances of McConaughey’s career.