Dammit, gwsat, you beat me to it.
Just kidding. I like your review and agree with it, except for being a little disappointed myself.
Don't get me wrong. It's a very good movie, but I was expecting a great movie after just loving Jeff Nichols' previous film Take Shelter
from 2011. Michael Shannon stars in it, and his performance is as good as nearly any I've seen. Jessica Chastain is terrific in it too, but her role is smaller than Shannon's, as he appears in nearly every scene. He expresses so much inner turmoil with so little dialogue, and does so in such an understated and subtle way, it's a marvel to behold. I also think Take Shelter's
script is much tighter and leaner than Mud's
is indeed a gothic southern tale, and it is indebted to and obviously inspired by some of the tales of Mark Twain. Nevertheless, I felt like Nichols was trying to cram too much into one film, and that his story went in too many directions at once. Some of the sequences and plot points could have been left on the editing room floor without harming the tone or theme. Indeed, I think the overall feel of the film would have improved if some of it had been left out. Tye Sheridan, the kid who plays Ellis, does a wonderful job and we identify with and care deeply about his character. He is destined to become a breakout star if he sticks with it. McConaughey is very good in this, but I liked him better in The Lincoln Lawyer
. Witherspoon is little more than a prop in this film, unfortunately, although she does well with what she has to work with. The rest of supporting cast was very good too.
One other small criticism I have -- and it's a minor one -- is that I felt there was a little too much corn pone down home rural dialogue; some of it rang true, whereas some of it seemed overwrought and exaggerated (I prefer erring on the side of understatement, but I suppose that's a matter of taste). I think Slingblade
got it more right than Mud
does, but compared to how mainstream Hollywood studios usually badly mishandle the portrayal of rural southerners and their lifestyles, this one is authentic to a T.
4 out of 5 stars from me.