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Running from his past. Hiding from the law. Only one way out. 

Year: 2012 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Jeff Nichols 
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland  
An image from Mud

Matthew McConaughey should be having the last laugh. Who could forget Matt Damon’s impression of McConaughey on the Letterman Show, mocking the actor’s penchant for being topless? But after spending a large portion of his career playing male leads in romantic comedies, he has finally emerged as an actor worthy of critical acclaim. Paired with the director Jeff Nichols, McConaughey provides a grittier, more mature performance.

Mud focuses on Ellis and Neckbone’s long, hot summer in their hometown Arkansas. They decide to take an adventure down the river to an island, where they find a prospective tree house – a boat stuck in a tree. It is here where they find Mud, a mysterious, almost mythic fugitive. After revealing to the boys that he is waiting for his childhood sweetheart Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), the boys become entangled in his escape from the law, and his reunion with her.

Jeff Nichols being influenced by the stories of Mark Twain, encapsulates painful, childhood romances and idealisations against the murky, yet beautiful, landscape of Arkansas. In comparison to his previous apocalyptic film Take Shelter, Mud certainly has a far more sentimental tone. Coming from troubled backgrounds, Ellis and Mud relentlessly pursue love in the most chivalric way possible. And so Nichols intelligently presents distinct representations of masculinity, and what this means for the women around them. In particular, Witherspoon, although being used to playing strong Southern women like June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, and even Melanie in Sweet Home Alabama, is cast as the doubtful damsel in distress, who is far more complicated than Mud likes to think. Overall, the film excels because of the strong performances by McConoughey, the young, astonishingly talented Tye Sheridan, and Nichols’ writing of Ellis, Neckbone, and Mud’s coming of age.

Dharini Yugambaranathan

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Screenings of this film:

2013/2014 Autumn Term (digital)