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Mud

06-mud-movie-2013-matthew-mcconaugheyMud (2013)

*****

Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions. Cast: Matthew McConaughey (Mud), Tye Sheridan (Ellis), Jacob Lofland (Neckbone), Michael Shannon (Galen), Sam Shepard (Tom Blankenship) Reese Witherspoon (Jupiter), Joe Don Baker (King), Bonnie Sturdivant (May Pearl). Running time: 130 minutes. (PG-13) Director: Jeff Nichols. 

Jeff Nichols (“Take Shelter”) carefully and skillfully forms the story of two boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) and their discovery of a fugitive Mud (Matthew McConaughey) who may have murdered a man. The movie takes place in the southern backcountry of Arkansas where the boys live similar to David Gordon Green’s movie “Undertow”(2004).

Mud has an undying love for a woman, Jupiter (Reese Witherspoon),who is a cheater as well as being victimized by a bad boyfriend. He has to see her risking his capture by authorities. To avoid being seen, he sends a handwritten letter by way of Ellis and Neckbone to Jupiter. Even here there’s danger in the air.

For Ellis is unhappy because his mom (Sarah Paulson) leaves his tough but warmhearted dad (Ray McKinnon). This fourteen year old boy feels the pain of abandonment in turn finding a buddy, Neckbone, as they wander in the woods and along the river like Huckleberry Finn.

Ellis meets the man Tom Blankenship (Sam Shepard) who raised Mud. Tom is a river dweller like Ellis and his parents. Tom doesn’t exactly say all nice things about Mud and not to be believed. According to Tom, Jupiter has cheated on Mud for years in spite of him chasing her across the country.

One can argue the shootout is for another movie and not for “Mud”. I’m not so sure. The shootout may be a blemish on what is one of the best movies since the Oscars; But, consider this: law enforcement is after Mud and trouble is likely to happen.

In sum, the cast is first-rate with Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan (“Tree of Life”) and Jacob Lofland outstanding in particular.

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