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Matthew McConaughey starts 2013 with another great performance

A close backwoods cousin to Stand By Me (1986), Jeff Nichols’ Mud is an often moving and unpredictable coming of age story that benefits from some striking visuals and all around strong acting from its cast. Much like in Take Shelter (2011), Nichols is very interested in masculinity and what it means to be a man in a tough America, though this time around there’s more in the way of youthful adventures and less in the way of potential doomsday. The filmmaker is pulling from all sorts of other works, though “Huckleberry Finn” is likely the one most will recognize, though the early works of David Gordon Green were on my mind as well.

The work however, the work is still that clearly is his own. Not being a huge fan of his earlier work, Mud is top-notch with excellent writing and direction, not to mention the performances by Tye Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey. Reese Witherspoon is no slouch herself, while newcomer Jacob Lofland impresses. Though not perfect, and running about 15 minutes too long, it’s got a lot of things going in its favor. With the right push, I could see this making the long haul from the festival circuit to the awards season.

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About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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