MUD has been called the “best American movie at Cannes.” The trailer above doesn’t tell the deepest, most important part of Mud and neither do most of the reviews. It is, above all else, a love story.
The script weaves a rope around Mud, played with extraordinary power and intensity by Matthew McConaughey, whose sexual ferocity and virility explode through the screen. That’s nothing compared to the deliverance of an actor who’s waited a long time to finally come into his own. Age has been very good to McConaughey, who is just now delivering on the promise his debut back in the 1990s foretold.
Tye Sheridan plays Ellis, who captures the narrative and runs away with the story when he becomes enraptured by McConaughey’s passion for one woman, Juniper, played by Reese Witherspoon, that drives Mud throughout the film. The arc of Sheridan’s acting encompasses every emotion and feeling, hitting every hue with perfect accuracy, delivering an epic performance that shows real craft maturity at a very young age.
The real star of Mud for me, however, is Jeff Nichols. A writer-director who has created a spellbinding film of life on the river and the lives of the people who inhabit a dying culture. Boys whose fathers have disappeared, replaced by people like Sam Shepard, a sharp shooter who raised Mud…
Well, just go see the film.
Mud is a truly great film, with every performance, all the way down to Joe Don Baker, and Michael Shannon, a brilliant actor who we’ll be fortunate enough to see in a slew of movies this year. It makes for a riveting ride through a dangerous, untamed part of America where women either escape or are sucked under by the emotional current that’s controlled completely by men, whose way of life is being torn apart.
What makes Mud a great love story is the dynamics of the passion between Mud and Juniper that play out over their lives. The torturous emotion finally culminates in an admission from both that is at the heart of how erotic obsession can tear the heart apart and take your life with it if you don’t recognize the difference between what’s good for you and what’s not.
Love can make you fly. If smitten by the wrong person it can be as dangerous as a venomous snake and as deadly if you don’t recognize it quickly.
The power of love drives us all. Sometimes it’s just not enough.