I shouldn't say I was totally surprised. The film's trailer was good left me pretty confident that I wouldn't hate the film...but I really didn't expect to be blown away like I was either. Matthew McConaughey plays the title character, an enigmatic drifter known only as Mud, but the film's true star is young Tye Sheridan. Sheridan made his acting debut in 2011's The Tree of Life. Some of you might remember how impressed I was with the cast of child actors in that film. Well, Sheridan continues his streak of awesomeness here in Mud. He and his co conspirator in the film, Jacob Lofland as his roughneck schoolmate "Neckbone," carry most of the movie's heavy lifting on their teenage shoulders and do a remarkable job.
Although marketed as a mystery/thriller, Mud is actually a coming of age film. Both Sheridan and McConaughey's character's are plagued with different iterations of the same problem. Sheridan is a naive young boy who must come to terms with the cruel realities of adult life, while Mud is a mentally stunted man child who's lifetime of reckless behavior is coming back to haunt him. The two have to grow up, and fast, in order to escape the very dangerous and heart breaking situation they find themselves in.
I can't go into much about Mud without slipping into spoiler territory but I will say this: it's a compelling film on almost every level. The entire cast is great, the musical score and cinematography are beautiful, and the story itself is enthralling. This isn't the most dazzling film in the world, but it's a fine example of good old fashioned story telling. Hats off to Mud's director Jeff Nichols, between this and his 2011 film Take Shelter, the dude is on fire.