Cannes 2012 Review: Jeff Nichols' Wonderful Southern Drama 'Mud'
by Alex Billington
May 26, 2012
Ah yes, this is what I've been waiting for. One of the last major premieres at the Cannes Film Festival was Jeff Nichols' third film following Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, titled simply Mud. This Arkansas-set southern drama is a wonderfully charming, classic Americana adventure following two young boys and their experience with a man named Mud that changes their lives. It's a coming-of-age film filled with heart, and passion, and brilliant filmmaking. I now affectionately refer to it as Stand By Me of the Southern Wild because it's a blend of the classic Stand By Me and the charm of Sundance hit Beasts of the Southern Wild.
In Mud, we're introduced to two adventurous boys, Ellis (played by Tye Sheridan of The Tree of Life) and his friend Neckbone (played by Jacob Lofland), who discover a boat stuck up in a tree on an island in the middle of the Mississippi. There they soon come across a mysterious Southern man named Mud, played impressively by Matthew McConaughey, who's the catalyst in this coming-of-age adventure. Mud doesn't have a complicated story, but instead focuses on a few key elements that really shine, mainly love, and what it means to love and how it affects the decisions people make. But as seen through the eyes of a boy learning love himself, while surrounded by a lot of intense love and hate that affects him positively and negatively.
The success of Mud comes primarily from the terrific storytelling and cinematic sensibilities of filmmaker-on-the-rise Jeff Nichols, who is becoming one of my favorites after this and Take Shelter. His use of an emotional score, his stunning cinematography, but most of all the amazing performances he gets out of his actors, are all reasons why I fell in love with Mud quickly. From the opening scenes it already felt similar to Stand By Me, as we follow two kids learning about life and how to grow up through the adult situations that they encounter and haphazardly get involved in. I make that comparison only as the way to describe how endearing and amazing this film is a coming-of-age story, but it deserves plenty of its own acclaim as well.
Even though it showed late in the festival, Mud may be my favorite of the fest. It got to me emotionally, it's engaging and extremely well-made, it addresses some compelling ideas regarding love, and I enjoyed almost every last second of it. It follows a more "classic" storytelling format (which is the oddball in Cannes) but I had no complaints, I admire what Jeff Nichols achieved here and compliment his audacity and focus on the characters. Both Ellis and "Neck", the two boys, give phenomenal performances, and this would not have worked without them. Mud is a wonderful film that will hopefully leave a lasting impression; it has with me.
Alex's Cannes Rating: 9 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 8 Comments
Mud is God Another Star is Born. Jeffe Nichols put foot in shoes of David Lynch but withought surrealistic look or hopeless scheme. Pic in headline reminde me wonderfull russian movie " Return " Andrey Zeviagintsev . Yes, I see Take Shelter. Completely Knouck Out . Dread Under My Skin is waveing. Show that to the whole my family. A thoughtful cinematic art with Warmth & Heart. Jeffe Nichols come to save wrecked ship of cinema that may drawn in abbyse of blockbusters and just mindless entertaining shallow movies. He is another classic maker. One Major Point of effectiveness of take shelter was Score too. Very Exotic. Such Surprisingly Incredibely Flick For Secondry Work and know receive the Proof. I believe im in love with this too, thank you mr.Alex Really can't wait for his next project (I'm not blasphemer,god means huge&ultimate)
Ehsan Davodi on May 26, 2012
I love how you go to Cannes, the most globally important film festival, where films from all over the world are shown, films you'd never ever get to see in the U.S.; and "what (you've) been waiting for" is an American film starring Matthew McConaughey which will surely see release in the U.S. shortly. Cool.
Dght on May 26, 2012
The site's audience is primarily American; thus, it only makes sense that the reviewers would focus the majority of their time on films the audience will most likely have access to. I am sure, as a film buff, the author has been looking forward to many films at the festival, American-made and otherwise. However, it is logical to highlight the films that most relate to his audience. It is nice to make a mention of the other films, because we will all have access to them sooner or later, but these longer reviews generally focus on American films due to the target demographic of the website. Pretty cool, huh?
Wayne on May 26, 2012
Dght on May 26, 2012
If Cannes is the most globally important film festival it should be no surprise, that important cinema from the USA would debut as well. And to have an American journalist be excited to see a film from his own country should surprise no one.
happy camper on May 26, 2012
OH MY GOSH THE HATE ON HERE SOMETIMES. Geeez. You really wouldn't think we were all movie fans. You'd think half the people on the site spent their time f*******g the other half's mums... Just chill.
Blargh on May 27, 2012
Cannes > Oscar (" Both Fan " & " Both Have Its Own Soul " . hate when Cannes doesnt became start with holleywoodian blockbusters,I expect this year opened with Prometheus but didn't)
Ehsan Davodi on May 26, 2012
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.