Starring Tye Sheridan, Matthew McConaughey, Jacob Lofland, Sam Shepard, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, and Reese Witherspoon
Directed by Jeff Nichols
The first film focusing on the kids which takes place during the first hour works...and works incredibly well. I found the normalcy of the everyday trials of these Southern teens oddly riveting despite the fact that there was perhaps a mundane aspect to it. Part of the reason for this half's success are the great performances from Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. Together, these two young talents more than held their own and their relationship and repartee with one another was wonderfully natural and believable.
Unfortunately, the second half of the film shifts much of its focus to the character of Mud and despite McConaughey's charm and charisma (coupled with a fine performance), I just found myself not caring about his plight of trying to win back his girl Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) and the chaos that surrounds his shady character's secrets. Rather oddly, whenever Mud places its attention on its title character, it becomes much more bland. The film's final moments (including a very oddly staged "action" sequence) prove to be more laughable than anything else and stand in stark contrast to the "reality" that the script provides for its two teen characters.
This is the second film I've seen from writer-director Jeff Nichols (after Take Shelter) and I appreciate his development of characters. He's also quite adept at culling nice performances from his actors who, considering the aforementioned development of characters, have a nice script to sink their teeth into. However, I do think that as Nichols grows as a filmmaker, he needs to get a bit more of a discerning eye when it comes to his work as I found Mud a bit meandering and unfocused especially in its flawed second half.
The RyMickey Rating: B-