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August 7, 2013

On DVD/Blu-ray – Review: Mud (2013)

by NIR SHALEV

Mud (2013)

A storm washes a small boat atop a tree and two teenagers, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), want to reach it first and claim it as their own. As they arrive on the small island where the boat is situated, they meet the man that’s beat them to the punch; his name is Mud (Matthew McConaughey) and he’s a convict. Mud’s recently escaped from prison and it appears that all he wants to do is fix the boat and get it working, and to meet up with his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) at least one more time. Ellis and Neckbone take an immediate liking to Mud, as would anyone that watches the film, and decide to help him out.

What we have here is a film that’s about two boys who learn several life lessons from varying adults. Ellis, the film’s protagonist and the audience’s eyes and ears, has parents who are stern and who might be transitioning through a divorce, so he learns about the true meaning of marriage from them. From Mud he learns what it means to be loyal to those one loves and what it also means to keep one’s word. He also learns about puppy love and breakups.

A lot transpires throughout the 130 minute runtime, but it never feels long. There are several more characters that belong to the overall arc of the story; however, there’s no point in going into detail about them because they’re part of the several plots that develop through the film. That being said, the film never feels rushed or crammed with unnecessary characters; it feels just right and just long enough to entertain and even frighten.

McConaughey is excellent in the role of Mud. So good, in fact, that he might garner an Oscar nomination (and here’s hoping). Mud may be a criminal but in a world that’s run rampant with cruelty and violence, he’s a wonderful human being. He and Ellis develop a sort of father/son relationship and it continually feels genuine. Again, nothing feels forced; it’s all natural. And Sheridan is also a terrific young talent to look out for. He and McConaughey are definitely great casting choices.

With Mud, writer/director Jeff Nichols, whose previous accomplishments are Shotgun Stories (2007) and Take Shelter (2011), delivers a beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, and terrifically told story about the loss of innocence, growing up, and owning up. If I had any complaints about Mud it’s that Michael Shannon (Nichol’s go-to-guy/regular) isn’t in it enough. But that’s a minor squabble.

Mud is my favorite film of 2013 so far and I find that it’s also the best one. I know that it’s only August, but I guarantee that it’ll remain as one of the 10 best films of 2013. This may sound vague but everything about it is simply wonderful. This film comes with a very high recommendation from everyone at Commentary Track and even a nod towards a blind buy.

The special features are a Director Commentary; A Personal Tale; The Arkansas Ensemble; Southern Authenticity; and The Snake Pit.

OTHER NEW RELEASES FOR AUGUST 6, 2013

Oblivion

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Sapphires

To the Wonder

West of Memphis

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