Wednesday, May 01, 2013
It has been 13 years since Matthew McConaughey played his bongos nude while high on Cannabis and then went into a string of not so romantic or funny romantic comedies. In the past 2 years he has been making a startling comeback with 3-4 highly acclaimed performances and he adds another one with “Mud”. With Medusa like hair, a chipped tooth, scraggly beard, tattoos and with a tan that is golden on his chiseled body you can see that bongo playing bad boy through the aging face. As the titled not quite so heroic lead on the run for killing a man and with that man’s father (Joe Don Baker), and bounty hunters tracking him down, Mud turns to his father-like figure Tom (Sam Shepard) and two 14 year old boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) along with Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) for help. Tom warns the boys that Mud is nothing but a liar and all of his failures have been due to his love of Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) who he is now looking to hook up with again, run away and start a new life.
With a strong supporting cast along with Baker and Shepard there are Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson as Ellis’s parents, Michael Shannon as Neckbone’s uncle and Bonnie Sturdivant as a possible girlfriend for Ellis, though she doesn’t see it, McConaughey holds his own and the audiences attention but this film revolves around the boys. They are coming of age and all that brings including seeing the so many different ways of love among adults.
With all that this film is very disappointing for many reasons but the major one is that director and screenwriter Jeff Nichols tries to handle too many themes and in turn has a 2 hour and 10 minute film that would have been a lot better at one hour and 45 minutes. Though the relationship between McConaughey and Witherspoon is vital to the movie it is given short shrift and the latter very little screen time. Though good in their roles both Shannon’s and Shepard’s roles could have easily been eliminated as 2-3 other storylines really didn't add much but took away that important Mud and Juniper relationship.
Definitely a nod of the head to cinematographer Adam Stone who makes the Arkansas sunsets, sunrises and rivers sparkle. The original music by David Wingo and the production designer Richards A. Wright brings you into and lets you know the world of the Arkansas Delta.
“Mud” has fine performances by McConaughey, Sheridan, Lofland and the supporting cast but the length, slow pace and too many storylines work against it.