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Times of India
Two friends meet a man hiding out in the woods who's on the run. They help him try and escape to freedom and to reunite with his lady love.
Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his best friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) are a 21st century Huckleberry Finn-style duo. They ride scooters, fish, sail, know every inch of their Arkansas hometown and even find a secret hideaway on an island - a boat stuck atop a tree! But their island idyll and the boat have an inhabitant. His name is Mud.
Tattooed, superstitious, dishevelled and packing a .45 calibre, Mud (McConaughey) tells the boys that he's a fugitive, dodging bounty-hunting assassins. He's also trying to trace his girl Juniper (Witherspoon, oozing sex appeal) who's a hoochie gal with a soft heart for bad boys. Mud makes a deal with the two - he offers Neck his .45 in return for food. Intrigued and charmed in equal measure, the boys agree. But is Mud a man worth helping? Is he a good guy caught between a rock and a hard place or a scoundrel with no scruples, who plays the sympathy card well?
A grizzled Sam Shephard - a deadshot with a sniper rifle - knows Mud since childhood and warns the kids about him. But Ellis, who'd like to see Mud and Juniper reunite, and Neck, the deadpan-delivery voice of reason, pay no heed. A coming-of-age story with more than a few moments of menace, the film's languid pace matches the humid atmosphere of the Mississippi delta setting. The visuals are amazing, with a tinge of surrealism. The cinematography is lush and the dialogues deftly delivered. The Southern folks embody values like trust, a good work ethic, honesty and loyalty. Ellis is, however, the true hero of this film.
Mud was very well-received by a packed house at the Paramount Theatre for its Regional Premiere at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. The crowd particularly loved local favorites director Jeff Nichols and the always shape-shifting Matthew McConaughey. (How is it possible that McConaughey hasn't even been nominated for an Oscar yet?) Mud is a charming, entrancing film that has almost lyrical quality as it unfolds along the rural backwoods of Arkansas's Mississippi River. The story revolves around the adventures of two young teenage boys who meet a mysterious drifter appropriately named Mud. Mud is hiding out an island in the Mississippi River awaiting the arrival of his beloved Juniper. The story has elements of drama, thriller, and romance. While the film is slightly too long and the story has a few unnecessary and distracting subplots, its overall eloquence and is absorbing. So like the Mississippi, the story meanders a little too much. The River setting becomes a character in the film that shapes the drama playing out along it. The two teenage actors are excellent, but the film is tour-de-force for McConaughey who is its heart and soul. Highly recommended for those who like serious drama and appreciate natural beauty.