Elegance. I feel that is the best word to describe Mud, Jeff Nichols’ follow-up to his fantastic 2011 film, Take Shelter. Two teenager boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lorfland) travel up to a small island in the Mississippi River where a boat is stuck high up in a tree and they intend to keep it until they meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a mysterious man with a back story that is slowly developed throughout the film. A detail revealed early on is that he is wanted criminal, he murdered a man who was beating his girlfriend, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). He is stuck on the island and wants the help of the two boys to eventually reunite with Juniper. On top of that, both of the boys have sets of their own problems, more notably Ellis with his parents constantly arguing and troubles with girls.
The movie is absolutely beautiful in regards to cinematography. So many shots are visual treats of nature, whether it be the water, the sun, etc. The movie is just beautiful. Especially notable is the very last shot of the film that ends the movie on a perfect note of tranquility. It is very much a simple story, but it works so well that it’s simplicity only makes it a better film. Furthermore, it tells simple morals and lessons, and the characters are not overly complex but it’s just so well-made that it works so fluently. If anything, it is definitely inspired by Mark Twain’s novels especially with it’s southern setting and young characters.
The acting by the entire cast is fantastic, especially McConaughey and Sheridan, McConaughey gives a calm performance that only explodes when needed, Sheridan plays a wonderfully confused teenagers trying to figure things out for himself. In addition, the climax of this film was absolutely incredible and played out in a way that I wasn’t expecting but was fantastic. Overall, Jeff Nichols has made another great film, one that will be remembered by the end of the year for me as one of the most notable films of the year, it’s beautiful, simple, and just works on every level, an absolute treat.