If “Mud,” now is out on home video, were a novel, it would be considered Southern Fiction.
Hailed as a coming-of-age drama, “Mud” centers on youths Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who are exploring an island in the Mississippi River when they discover a boat stuck high up in a tree. Though they intend to keep the vessel, they soon discover someone is living in it. That someone turns out to be Mud (Matthew McConaughey).
Ellis instantly is drawn to Mud, who develops into a charismatic, mysterious vagrant, full of interesting stories and superstitions. Mud is hiding from the law after killing the lover of Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), a troubled Southern beauty.
Mud says he murdered the man because he was harming Juniper, his complicated, lifelong love, but that doesn’t change the fact that a posse of ne’er-do-wells mean to avenge the death.
Now, Ellis has to balance his shaky home life (his-low income parents are about to split), his own burgeoning romantic life (he has just been on his first date) and the demands of helping Mud survive in the wilderness, avoid authorities and vigilantes alike and possibly reunite with Juniper.
“Mud” is directed by Jeff Nichols, a name I plan to remember. Nichols was behind “Take Shelter,” a slow-burning Southern tale about a man who either is having frightful premonitions or going completely insane. I was a big fan and after seeing “Mud,” I’m now a big fan of Nichols. Each of his pictures features actor Michael Shannon, whom Showtime loyalists know I’m also keen on.
Both “Take Shelter” and “Mud” have authenticity with them; I’d like to think that the late Elmore Leonard would also be a fan.
McConaughey proves with this role that he has finally grown up, and this is a character an actor can sink his teeth into.
“Mud” can be construed as slow-paced (it certainly isn’t as slow as “Take Shelter”— I promise), but I loved the atmosphere, story, character development and the big bang at the end.
It won’t be for everyone, but I’m a fan!
McBrayer’s column appears weekly in the Courier. She normally also does a video of her review. This week, however. out-of-town guests took up the time she would normally record the show.