REVIEW: Mud (2013)

Lionsgate poster for ‘Mud’.

*I attribute it to 2013 due to the fact that it was only released at festivals in 2012 – and had a wide release in its country of production in 2013.

2012 was the beginning of Matthew McConaughey’s rise back to stardom. Since 2012 he has been considered a big star yet again with great performances in Magic Mike, Dallas Buyers Club, True Detective – and, yes, Mud. Even though Mud is probably the least known of his performances, it might just be one of his strongest.

The movie follows young Ellis and Neckbone as they find a strange man named ‘Mud’ on a small island. Slowly, but surely, the plot evolves into a coming-of-age story as Ellis must discover the true meaning of love, friendship, and guidance.

You would think that star actors Michael Shannon and Reese Witherspoon would have some of the strongest performances in this film, but that is not the case. Even though they are important to the plot, their performances are not particularly noteworthy though just fine.

The strongest secondary performances come from Matthew McConaughey (playing Mud) and Sam Shepard (playing Tom Blankenship, an old friend of Mud’s). And McConaughey really makes us believe in the performance revolution that he started in 2012.

McConaughey’s Mud moves through a number of different character moments, and thus proves to be a very versatile performance. Mud can be frightening, dramatic, loving, and heartwarming. And through it all, you’re mesmerized by the well-written and well-acted character.

But we need to talk about the two young boys in the film. Jacob Lofland’s Neckbone isn’t the most noteworthy character, and he is assisted by Michael Shannon and Tye Sheridan on a number of occasions. But Lofland does a good job, make no mistake.

Tye Sheridan, though, gives the most surprising performance in the film. Sheridan’s Ellis serves as the heart of the film: stuck between two fighting parents, the problem of relocation, and the fascinating mix of immature and mature love – Sheridan is spectacular all the while.


 

Final Score: 9 out of 10‘Mud’ is a wonderful coming-of-age drama spearheaded by amazing performances by Tye Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey.

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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