Due to the generational ebb and flow of such things, we’re lucky enough to get a great new coming-of-age tale every couple of years. Not too long ago we had The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a few years before that, Adventureland, and then way back to the seminal classics of yester-year, Stand By Me and American Graffiti. All four are fantastic movies, yet Mud still has something to offer.
Two young boys stumble upon the enigmatic Mud (Matthew McConaughey) during one of their days out cruising the islands on the Arkansas River. And, as luck would have it, Mud sees something in these two boys; they remind him of himself . . . which, of course, is the perfect set-up for a whole new world of adult-free adventure. But, everything takes a turn for the serious when the two boys learn the truth about Mud’s dark past.
McConaughey is suberb in the mystical title role, and his Texan moodiness matches the Southern State fairytale-feel exquisitely. Just as Beasts of the Southern Wild did two years ago, Mud feels unashamedly comfortable with its own unique culture. Jeff Nichols (director) revels in the delightfully antiquated society in which these two kids live.
He also draws a raw beauty from the incredible scenery. He sends his camera gliding across the landscape with an unnatural grace, as if reflective of the more magical elements of this tale. However, when the action kicks in, his camera ramps up and David Wingo’s delicate score powers into focus. These scenes, while relatively scarce, are placed in brilliantly amongst the drama and they deliver a tangible sense of urgency and danger.
But, the whole thing would be nothing without the two youngsters, Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. They both deliver performances well beyond their tender years and Sheridan, especially, is absolutely fearless when he finds himself toe-to-toe with the mighty McConaughey.
All things considered, Mud is a really beautiful piece of work featuring a set of excellent performances from the young and the old, alike.