Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Mud" with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon (2012)

Don’t be fooled by the slow methodical pace of this film. It all leads to a stunning and surprise ending. Neckbone and Ellis are two young boys living near the river in Arkansas when they encounter a man named Mud who lives in a houseboat which has somehow become lodged in a tree on a deserted island in the river. He claims that he is waiting on a girl named Juniper; played by Reese Witherspoon.

Ellis’ parents are in the midst of a separation which resembles some of the problems that Mud and Juniper may have been having. It’s hard to tell what is real or not with Mud; played by Matthew McConaughey. He is obviously on the run from something, but what? It turns out to be a murder. Mud has killed a man who wasn’t treating Juniper right. He expects her to come and meet him on the island. Mud plans to fix the old boat up and make his escape down the river. At least that’s the plan.

When Neckbone; played by Jacob Lofland; and Ellis; played by Tye Sheridan; spot Juniper in town they assume that she has come to rendezvous with Mud. But there are bounty hunters gathering to avenge the death of one of their own. The boys see all this activity and put two and two together. They are divided about what to do, or not, to help Mud.
Mud convinces them to scrounge parts to help him renovate the old boat. This leads to some conflicts between Ellis and his father, who is trying to save his marriage and his home on the river. When Ellis realizes that Mud has used both himself and Neckbone for his own selfish ends he is furious, but when his life is suddenly on the line, just as Mud is about to make his break, Mud is the one who rescues him in a dramatic race against time from a deadly snake bite.

Although he is being relentlessly pursued by the bounty hunters he insists that Neckbone take him to visit Ellis before he leaves. A gun battle ensues with the bounty hunters, who have been staking out the boys home, and aided by his mysterious friend from across the river he is able to escape to freedom.

Joe Don Baker; as the mysterious neighbor; and Sam Shepard; as Ellis’ dad; both deliver outstanding performances. Armed with a gripping screenplay director Jeff Nichols has delivered a flawless film. You really don’t want to miss this one.

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