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Directed by Jeff Nichols

USA, 2012

Cornerhouse, 12 May 2013


This is a terrific film, an intelligent, rite-of-passage drama with a magnificently choreographed gunfight at the close.

There are echoes of Stand by Me and the opening scene of Great Expectations but its best described (scrabbling for a comparison) as a down-home, Americana version of The Go-Between, if you can imagine such a beast.

Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), two teenage boys, come upon Mud, a mysterious stranger (Matthew McConaughey).  He is a man of the river the like of whom they’ve never seen before, and Ellis in particular is smitten.  They decide to help Mud by bringing him food and equipment and taking messages to his girl (Reese Witherspoon), and in time the two boys find themselves embroiled in his troubles.

It is a film about boys and men, fathers and sons, and as such it is wholly satisfying, but what s especially fine – well, there are two things, the second being the luminous presence of Sam Shepard, legend – is that there is nary a hint of misogyny to be found.  You never give up on women or on love as a possibility, that’s the bottom line.