Monday, May 20, 2013
by: Ryan Grudinski
Jeff Nichols third film, Mud has cemented him in my mind as a director whose work I will continue to look forward to. He has made the list. His 2011 film, Take Shelter was my favorite film of the year, and his latest, Mud may just have topped it. The film examines themes of love, revenge, friendship, and family. Really, my only negative take away from the film has to do with the themes, and it's such a nitpick that I almost didn't want to include it in the review, but I found some of the themes to be kind of heavy-handed, but really, the biggest stress in that sentence is the "kind of" part, really it's such a small thing, it's hardly even worth mentioning, I just wanted to throw in SOMETHING negative to counteract the gushing that's about to begin in 3...2..1...
Mud, played superbly by Matthew McConaughey is a man on the run after killing a man who hurt the woman he loves. While he is the title character, the film is really about the young Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan, (Tree of Life) a young man who has a very bright future in acting if he should choose to continue to pursue it. Ellis has idealistic views on what love is, and what a family should be, and how people should treat one another. As he learns the sad realities of life from his parents and his schoolmates he continues to also take an influence from Mud, his new found and unlikely friend. The performances in this film are absolutely outstanding. Michael Shannon (who has been in all three of Nichols' films) plays a much smaller part than in Shotgun Stories, and Take Shelter but his screen time is among my favorite of the many great actors in this one. For anyone not familiar with Nichols' work, be warned to expect a slow burn. His work is often very understated, restrained, and often times build slowly though slow dialog, slow character development, and slow pacing. This does not register with me as a bad thing, in fact, it's one thing I love about his work, just be warned that if that is not your thing, you may be "bored" during these parts. Reese Witherspoon gives a great performance as well, possibly one of the best of her career. Actually, let me just stop and save a little bit of time. If I listed all the performances in this that are good, there'd be a lot of redundancy in this review. In reality, ALL of the performances in this are at the very least solid, and in the case of McConaughey and Sheridan, they reach levels that I would consider "outstanding."
I don't like giving away plot details in my reviews, so the only other thing I'll say is GO SEE THIS MOVIE! In this season filled with popcorn films, this is a breath of fresh air for someone who desires something a little "more" from a movie. Don't get me wrong, summer blockbusters can be great as well (Star Trek: Into Darkness) but a lot of the time they leave us wanting more (Iron Man 3.) If this type of film interests you, please seek it out, it's definitely worth a look!
This movie feels like an Oscar season film, and I'm really surprised it's being released in the summer season. I hope come Oscar season it does not get forgotten about, because many of the performances deserve nomination, and the film itself, at least at this point in the year, absolutely deserves a nod for Best Picture.
Plot: **** 1/2
Technical: Absolutely beautiful film. The score is very understated and calm, the camera work and cinematography are fantastic.
X-Factors: McConaughey and Sheridan's performances, the overall look and feel of the film.
Verdict: **** 1/2
Will This Movie end up in my collection? Absolutely. Day 1.