Mud might not sound intriguing, but this is one of the best films I've seen this year. It's a coming of age story involving love, a criminal element, and the confusion of being fourteen. Matthew McConaughey (Mud) is a drifter found on a deserted island by two teen boys. He's a charmer who solicits their help in rescuing a boat from a tree so that he can escape with his true love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon playing white trash well) who's currently ensconced in a local motel. Ellis (Tye Sheridan) wants to believe in love and is eager to help. Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) is suspicious but drawn into the adventure.
The boys motor back and forth to the island with supplies. Meanwhile, Ellis' parents are heading toward to divorce, plus Ellis has fallen for an "older" girl and is quick with his fists these days in regards to love and honor. He's confused on so many levels (that's fourteen), and this movie covers the subject well. Matthew McC. displays deep acting chops in this film. He's getting better and better, and this material is perfect - he's a romantic, he's delusional, and the snake oil he oozes pulls you in. You root for this bad boy, even as bullets are loaded and he's surrounded.
The two boys are superb - guiless, shrewd, sentimental, and working to understand the adult world, even as they maneuver bicycles, scooters, and boats. The setting of makeshift houseboats adds to the uncertainty in their world.
Finally, here's a great line by Mud - "I don't traffic in the truth too often, but I did love her." Mud is a brilliant film with all the right elements - great acting, writing, characters, setting, and emotion. Fourteen just asks for heartbreak. Get too close to love and you'll be snakebit too.
October, November and December Fest at Studio 14
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