Mud  (2012)    74/100

Rating :   74/100                                                                     130 Min        12A

The latest in a series of recent films to feature a standout performance from Matthew McConaughey, who has decided to ditch his, much given to ribaldry, roles of ‘the guy who takes his shirt off’, romcom castaways most cinema goers will be familiar with prior to his taking on much more interesting and, as is the case here in his interpretation of the eponymous Mud, more vulnerable character portraits, although getting his shirt off is still knowingly fitted into the storyline, female viewers fret not. All this is a little misleading though – he is one of three main characters, the other two being a couple of friends in their early teens who happen upon Mud hiding out in the woods around their small town in Arkansas, as the first half of the film plays out like a cross between ‘Winter’s Bone’ and ‘Badlands’, meandering into the domain of Mark Twain along the Mississippi river.

The boys are played by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland whom, together with a supporting cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard and Michael Shannon, also bring their characters to life with suitable distinction. Indeed, initially everything unfolds at a painfully reticent rate, but slowly we warm to the central trio, and gradually their lives become more interesting, ultimately leading to a worthwhile, poignant and memorable drama about the incisive and defining pain of falling in love, no matter what age you are when it happens. The film is written and directed by Jeff Nichols, hot on the success of his 2011 indie hit ‘Take Shelter’, also starring Michael Shannon.

McConaughey’s performance, and the film in general, received a lot of buzz in Hollywood when it was released, and it stands as another early awards contender, and it would not be particularly surprising or amiss to see him take home a prestigious award based on the sheer number alone of his recently lauded performances. For any fans of his, McConaughey’s other noteworthy roles of late have been; ‘Magic Mike’ (2012), ‘The Paperboy’ (2012), ‘Killer Joe’ (2011), ‘Bernie’ (2011) and ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ (2011). Indeed, John Grisham has recently announced he’s working on a sequel to ‘A Time to Kill’, whose film adaptation was previously one of McConaughey’s finest moments – is this sequel inspired by a resurgence in the actor’s career?

Quite Possibly …

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