“I ain’t no bum. I got money, boy.You can call me a hobo ’cause a hobo will work for his living. You can call me homeless, ’cause.. Well that’s true for now. But you call me a bum again, I’m gonna teach you somethin’ about respect your daddy never did.”
Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and to reunite him with his true love. (The review will contain spoiler, be warned)
I was fooled by the poster and all the praises that goes to Matthew McConaughey in the film, it’s not that i hated the dude or anything, i just found myself more reluctant when it come to his films. So anyway, as usual i did not bother to read plot summary before watching Mud, so going to the movie uninformed i anticipate some drama regarding McConaughey character. Man was i wrong! The film is actually centers in a coming-of-age journey of young boy named Ellis (Tye Sheridan). The opening made me think of The Hardy Boys or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, as he and his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) sneak out of their houses and hop on their boat through the Mississippi river to a deserted island, to visit an abandoned ship that suspended up high on a tree branch. A perfect hideout for 14-year old boys. But a superstitious drifter named Mud (McConaughey) have been living on that boat. The two Arkansas boys soon bonded with Mud, helping him out as they idealized an image that drawn them to the battered mysterious man.
Mud is the third feature film of director Jeff Nichols, it was released in 2012 Cannes Film Festival and received positive response from the critics. This is actually my first Nichols film, so i have no reference of comparison towards his previous films. But from Mud, i can tell that Nichols is capable of weaving a poignant story with a strong narrative. Evident in it’s a slow-burned pace at the beginning feels almost lazy and indulgent, letting the story simmers before it bubbles and explode as it gains momentum towards the end.
The slow pace allow each character to be introduced with great details and with quite an extensive backstory. This made the three lead character become more fleshed out, purely by the vividness of each detail. There are a sense of parallel between each character as they dealt with similar problem on a different proportion. Especially the father-and-son issue, the endless strive for love, and, of course, growing up. As the film gain its momentum towards the end, all these details become muddled and overwhelming, throwing us off for a little bit, although it all still wraps up quite nicely in the very end. Beautifully captured riverscape and inhabited island become the backdrop of the larger part of the film. Nichols use creative camera works here, the camera only move as the character in the frame move, giving a sense of point of view and mimicking how our eyes would move when following a moving object.
Matthew McConaughey as the eponymous character, Mud, are so battered and yet still stood with certain allure under the layers of protection (his shirt and his pistol), there are so many interestingly contradicting traits in him. Faux confidence to hide his cowardice, oozing charisma to disguise his sinister traits. The quality of acting displayed by McConaughey is undebatably good with enough grace and finesse). Personally, Ellis character is particularly interesting, sensitive kid who was trapped between wanting to stay in his blissful childhood and coerced to become an adult by external situations. Tye Sheridan, showed his promising acting ability here, made me look forward to his hopefully good progress in hollywood. The source of comic, the Ronald Weasley to Harry Potter, the Samwise Gamgee to Frodo, is Neckbone. Honest, outspoken, loud. Jacob Lofland balances out the tension using his witty quips. Other character that supported the lead’s story appear in the periphery of the film, yet still made out of a good casting process. Reese Witherspoon remind us of her capability to deliver in emotionally engaging drama, while Michael Shanon (looking fine, probably from all the Man of Steel fitness regime) steals every scene as much as his on-scene little brother (Neckbone).
While i still feel the slow pace felt rather cloying, i appreciate the great detail and the strength of the narrative. Nichols has woven a powerful story about growing out of innocence with equally engaging characters. Subtly evoking emotions and keep it bubbling under the surface, and without realizing it i was pulled along into the water of Mississippi River.
GENRE Drama, Coming-of-age
DIRECTOR Jeff Nichols | PRODUCER Lisa Marie Falcone, Sarah Green, AaronRyder | WRITER Jeff Nichols | MUSIC David Wingo | CINEMATOGRAPHER Adam Stone | EDITOR Julie Monroe | STUDIO Everest Entertainment, Brace Cove Productions, FilmNation Entertainment | DISTRIBUTOR Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions | COUNTRY United States | BUDGET $10 million | RUNNING TIME 130 minutes | RATING PG-13 for some violence, sexual references, language, thematic elements, and smoking | RELEASE May 26, 2012 (Cannes), April 26, 2013 (US)
STARRING Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon