'Mud' review: A beautifully crafted drama
Part coming-of-age story, part fugitive adventure and part drama about losing faith in relationships, "Mud" succeeds wonderfully in its ambitious goal of working on so many levels.
In short: two Mississippi boys come across a man in hiding who hopes to be reunited with his girlfriend. All the while one of the boys faces upheaval within his family as he courts the girl of his dreams. (watch the trailer)
"Mud" is a story excellently well told. It has a clear and decisive voice/tone that is patient, detailed and sympathetic. This is not merely a series of events cobbled together into a narrative - this is a gripping drama with ever-present danger that simultaneously weaves complex, nuanced themes touching upon the very nature of human relationships.
The mastery of tone is incredible. "Mud" gracefully flows from touching to intense to introspective to funny without jarring transitions or manipulative cues. The fugitive-on-the-run plot is simply the framework for a story about fathers-and-sons, what it means to be in love and how to move forward after being abandoned.
Director Jeff Nichols creates a textured world, populated with very human characters and set in rich, weathered small town. Every character feels perfectly suited for the film's world. Most of the characters are poor southerners but none of them feel like caricatures. They are multi-dimensional beings believably exchanging loyalty, affection and mistrust.
With an incredible cast highlighted by Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Michael Shannon, it is impressive that two kids do most of the acting heavy lifting. Witherspoon and Shannon are excellent in their brief roles - they make the most out if their minimal screen time. And count this as another excellent outing for McConaughey, who is quietly turning out one great performance after another in recent years.
The overall movie maintains a consistent, methodical pace from start to finish. Scenes are allowed to breath without feeling stale. If "Mud" was tightened up overall, with a scalpel and not a meat cleaver, then the films overall pace would be improved.
This is not just a movie well made. This is a wonderful drama beautifully crafted & told. And "Mud" ranks among the best films of 2013.
Final verdict: Absolute must-see film of 2013.