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Wick's Review

Created Apr 30, 2013 11:02PM PST • Edited Apr 13, 2014 07:53PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Joe Morgenstern declared Mud an instant classic in the Wall Street Journal. Not sure why, but hell yes.

    You almost want to ding Mud for being such a classically terrific movie, but damn if it doesn’t play out as monumentally cinematic yet nearly natural. Kind of a crime caper involving bounty hunters and vendettas, it never resorts to the double-cross. Instead it unfurls one single-cross after another, most of them dramatic jabs, some uppercuts. OK, the one ding is Mud’s smoking, more about which later.

    The Mud of the title is a fugitive discovered on an island in the mighty Mississippi by two Arkansas boys who get drafted into helping him. Their lesson? What it means to be a man in a world where others often aren’t true.

    There are star turns all around, most especially from Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, RomCom royalty here starring as RomDrama leads. They’re of course better looking than everyone around them. Natch.

    A never better McConaughey also matches up with old and new leading men Sam Shepard and Tye Sheridan, the first 70, the second 14, all of them with moviestar mugs. Tye Sheridan, he of the moviestar name, also demonstrates moviestar heroism. Mark my word, young Sheridan’s got greatness in him.

    As does Jeff Nichols, the writer-director who’s got it all going with Mud, an instant classic indeed.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Matthew McConaughey’s romantic fugitive can now be counted as one of his greatest roles. McConaughey’s Southern-fried gentility makes him a character clearly rooted in place, contributing to a quality the whole movie exudes.

    Reese Witherspoon plays the gal he loves more than life itself, a blonde hottie with a penchant for trouble. Hmm, seems Reese is starting to live her roles in real life.

    Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland play 14 year-old best buddies, with each delivering star making performances. Sheridan also impressed as Brad Pitt’s son in Tree of Life, making him somewhat of a proven commodity as a stalwart yet sensitive boy. Newcomer Lofland successfully delivers most of the movie’s laugh lines, of which there are several.

    Ray McKinnon delivers an ultimately touching performance as Sheridan’s hard working Dad.
    Michael Shannon is less kinky than usual, but no less interesting, as Lofland’s Uncle and guardian.

    The great Sam Shepard delivers a classically craggy performance as McConaughey’s patron.

    Finally, distinctive cameos from Joe Don Baker and Bonnie Sturdivant stud the movie with powerful moments, his as a grief stricken crime boss, hers as a high-school dream girl.

  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Jeff Nichols wrote and directed two films before Mud, though neither made a splash. That’s all over now, as he’s clearly one of best American auteurs to come along in a good long while.

    He has a great sense of the filmic canvas. Minimal music, lots of quiet, ample ambient noise and some good-old-fashioned closeups give his film a feeling of reality observed.

    What were his previous films? Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories.

    Now the ding. Mud lacks food on his island hideaway but doesn’t want for cigarettes, which he chain smokes. Really? Bad choice in terms of suspension-of-disbelief and role modeling.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Nichols’ script naturally unfurls a story of love, loss, faithfulness and faithlessness, all of it rooted in the river culture of the middle Mississippi.

  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.7

    Southern sordidness. Not quite into Elmore Leonard territory, but close.

  15. Sex Titillating 2.1
  16. Violence Brutal 2.6
  17. Rudeness Profane 3.4
  18. Glib 1.8

    Jeff Nichols makes sure to show us a 2011 calendar, though his movie feels like a decade or more earlier given the old Ford trucks plus the complete absence of cell phones and computers. Thus the teens at the movie’s center aren’t within a hundred miles of facebook. Really?

    More significantly, Mud the man has surreal powers of deception and capability.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.5
  20. Biological Glib 1.8
  21. Physical Surreal 2.1


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Aug 24, 2013 6:38PM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
“Get your gritty drifter and curious boy on, and have a good time.” Funny, and good advice too!

May 9, 2013 8:47PM

Regarding Tripod’s Review
“Given the other disappointments with the movie, they may as well should have added a dogstyle scene with the river rats after a course of macaroni and cheese.” LOL