Matthew McConaughey is arguably becoming one of Hollywood’s most reliable stars, and his string of well-regarded movies (The Paperboy, Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Lincoln Lawyer) as opposed to vapid rom-coms gathers pace with Mud, directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter).
Two teenage friends, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), come across a man named Mud (McConaughey), who is hiding on an island in the Mississippi river. Mud talks about the things he’s supposedly done, which range from killing a man to evading bounty hunters. Mud explains he’s planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), but he needs their help. Will Ellis and Neckbone cooperate or leave Mud stuck, as it were?
For the most part, critics aren’t stuck when it comes to what they think of Mud. New York magazine gives particular props to McConaughey, pointing out that he “drawls and barks and gives his weird timing free rein, with the result that every line that emerges from his twisted, sunken face lands somewhere, sometime unexpected.” The Hollywood Reporter raves that it’s “shot through with traditional qualities of American literature and drama,” while Slant notes that Mud, as well as Mud, “embodies an odd mix of the lofty and lowbrow, the allegorical and quotidian.” But the Village Voice isn’t as much of a fan, opining that “a movie so attuned to natural currents in the end gets caught up in Hollywood’s impossible ones.”