THIS is director Jeff Nichols’ third film and he sums it up thus: “Two boys, Ellis and Neckbone, find a
Review by Lesley Potter
Director: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon
THIS is director Jeff Nichols’ third film and he sums it up thus: “Two boys, Ellis and Neckbone, find a man hiding out on an island in the middle of the Mississippi who says he’s on the run. So they form a pact and decide to help him out.”
After his revenge drama Shotgun Stories of 2007 and his mental illness thriller of 2011, Take Shelter, he is making the film he always wanted to make, drawing inspiration from the great American novel along the lines of Huckleberry Finn.
The fugitive at the centre of the story is called Mud, played by Matthew McConaughey, and he lives in a boat lodged in a tree after a previous flood. On the surface it’s a story about three guys sweating it out in the wilds (what is it about men, particularly American men, that makes them find hunting, going native and living in dens so fascinating?) but underneath it all it’s about... love.
The love interest — Mud’s girlfriend — is played by Reese Witherspoon and while the three of them sit and wait for her to arrive all kinds of things happen to them — emotionally as well as physically. Nichols admits that it’s a coming-of-age story, for the two 14-year-olds, as well as for the older man. saying: “They end up mirroring each other in a lot of ways.”
According to critics, McConaughey plays the desperado to such perfection that it’s difficult to reconcile him with some of the more slick roles he has become associated with — the film adaptation of John Grisham’s novel A Time To Kill (1996), where he played an idealistic young lawyer opposite Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey, and more recently, an attorney in The Lincoln Lawyer.
However the film is told through the eyes of young Ellis, a boy who is determined to find someone to trust and believe in.