Mud

“Have you been to the cinema lately?”

“Why yes, Doug Benson, I have. I saw ‘Mud.'”
Doug: “Ooooh, what did you think?”
Me: “Well, if the Leonard Maltin game can wait a bit, let me tell you.”
I’ll stop my “Doug Loves Movies” dream there because I doubt I’d even be able get those words out on stage. But if you’re reading, Doug, here are my thoughts on Matthew McConaughey’s latest film. 
The Jeff Nichols (writer and director of “Take Shelter”) project stars McConaughey as “Mud,” a man on the run encountered by two teenagers, Ellis and Neckbone. 
The encounter is pretty early on the film, set in Arkansas, when Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) find him in hiding on an island in the Mississippi River.
Mud is living in a boat wedged in the treetops that, while it keeps him hidden, he ultimately needs a motor to get off the island so he can escape with his true love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).
Ellis and Neckbone agree to help Mud by finding a motor for the boat, communicating with Juniper and bringing him food.
On the one hand Mud could be a bad guy, having killed a man in Texas and being pursued by bounty hunters for the crime, but his story also has a good guy component focusing on love and family.
The boys and Mud forge friendships and trust and in the end Nichols effectively mixes the love that is at the backdrop of the characters’ actions with the danger connected to Mud’s past.
In fact, the softer side of the story distracted me from the fact that Mud committed a crime and had his enemies seeking retribution for it.
I don’t know if it was on purpose or not but Nichols’ storytelling created a twist in the plot that then allowed for the secret of Mud’s world to fully connect with that of Ellis and Neckbone.
The revelation, I think, ultimately brings everyone closer and defines the love they need in their lives.
For Mud, it is from an unexpected source.
Nichols doesn’t completely spell it out for the viewer and leaves symbolism he uses in the film up for interpretation, which I liked.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Matthew McConaughey, but he is growing on me. It’s hard not to see the capability he has as an actor through his portrayal of Mud and to know he will have his pick of roles in the future.
The supporting cast of Michael Shannon (also from “Take Shelter”), Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, and even Witherspoon are strong alongside McConaughey.
Sheridan and Lofland’s characters are reminiscent of those in “Stand By Me” while moving the definition of performances in a coming-of-age story to a new level
I’ll watch out for their next roles, as well as anything McConaughey is in.
I need to catch up on some of his work, such as “Bernie” and “Killer Joe,” and let’s not forget “Magic Mike.” I’ve seen it four times already to study up on Channing Tatum, but McConaughey’s performance is impressive too and may warrant a fifth screening.
Some of his next roles are in Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan films, which are always a good sign for an actor’s resume.
I hope “Mud” stays on the radar for award season later this year.
Overall I can look past the fact that there are several scenes involving snakes in “Mud” and recommend the film as an original work of art to see if you like to think about stories long after they’re over.
That’s the magic of movies, right?

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