Mud (M)

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Mud
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Reviewer RobynNesbitt
10/11/2013
"Mud," the third feature from writer and director Jeff Nichols, is a remarkably accomplished piece of storytelling. From his promising, impressive film début, "Shotgun Stories," (2007) to the fascinating "Take Shelter," (2011) both showcases for Michael Shannon, who also has a key-supporting role in this film. Nichols has taken another step forward with his latest, which draws on Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" as a rough model for Ellis's story. The film presents an impressive narrative construction and compelling characters with dynamic performances.

Two boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), speed out on their boat to a nearby spit of land to check out the unusual sight of a boat ensnared in a treetop, when they encounter an inhabitant. Mud (Matthew McConaughey), declares that he's waiting around for an arranged date with girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). So he promptly enlists the help of the boys, who are in need of an adventurous break from their own humdrum lives. The boys have plenty of questions about his origins, but Mud doesn't reveal much. Mud is from around these parts, but fearful, it seems, of straying too close to the people and places of his youth.

At its heart, "Mud" is a story of the strength of familial bonds, of relationships destroyed by our tragically human, ineradicable flaws, and a coming-of-age film that defines us all. "Mud" deals in simple heartfelt emotions, and in a genuinely moving fashion. Nichols' approach to filmmaking also provides an additional palpable emotional element to the earnest storyline. "Mud" doesn't end up being a perfect film, with a runtime that feels a bit long, and its ending is a little weak. That's not to say it isn't fitting, but it just doesn't feel as satisfying as the rest of the film.

Always bringing out the best in his cast, Nichols solidifies his status as one of the best indie filmmakers of today. "Mud" delivers astounding performances while wrapping up the perfect blend
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