Sunday, April 28, 2013

Friend in need

Jeff Nichols, the writer and director of the new film Mud delivers a unique take on a boy coming of age. The boy, or boys in this film, aren't the idealized, adorable, sensitive, misunderstood mini-adults of the Steven Spielberg school, and they aren't the children imagined by Stephen King, that spew only the most wrenching and revealing stuff, destined to become writers one day. Ellis and Neckbone (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) have an easy rapport and speak the kind of shorthand that comes from spending lots of time together. They live in the Mississippi Delta, a hardscrabble existence chock full of junkyards, eroded homes, and eking out a living. In the same day they discover an abandoned boat in a tree (the result of a long ago flood) they meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a homeless man who claims to be on the run from bounty hunters after killing a man that hurt the woman he loves. Mud needs that boat, the impossibility, irrationality, and absurdity of which is not lost on Ellis and Neckbone. At 14, their hearts and minds are open. The spirit of that untarnished optimism, so realistically portrayed by the young actors, so intelligently written by Nichols, carries the film. The realization? Things happen, people disappoint, plans fall through, and despite waves of change, when you wake up you're still you. And that's okay. In fact, that's terrific.