Starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Jacob Lofland, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks and Joe Don Baker.
Directed by Jeff Nichols.
Jeff Nichols is a rural poet, a director that just captures the middle and lower-class Bible Belt with an honesty and beauty like no one else.
Shotgun Stories was his debut, a modern Hatfield & McCoy about three older siblings feuding with their father's next generation of sons, the ones that he actually loved and raised. Next he did Take Shelter, about a man who thinks he's seeing visions of coming disaster. Both starred Michael Shannon, lately best known for Man of Steel or HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Shannon's usually the bad guy or creepy guy, but in Nichols' world, he's allowed to play good three-dimensional characters.
He's a supporting part here. "Mud" is the name of Matthew McConaughey's character. Mud is a drifter hiding on an island, discovered by two friends, Ellis (Sheridan) and Neckbone (Lofland). Ellis and Neck like to boat up and down the river by their town, exploring. They find Mud living in a boat stuck in a tree, dropped there from some previous tornado.
People here are so poor I couldn't tell if this was a period movie or not. The only radio song that we hear is from The Beach Boys, and Ellis and Neck would fit right in with the kids from Stand By Me. It could be set in the 1980's, or present day. Some of the residents would be just as comfortable moving in by Hushpuppy from Beasts from the Southern Wild.
I'm going to be bummed if this gets forgetten come award season.