Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mud

Mud is a coming of age drama about two boys that come across a man who turns out to be a fugitive. It is told through the eyes of the boy named Ellis who's life is just beginning to come into focus. The film is actually perfect American story telling and I would call it an "instant classic". The story is relatively straight forward and it's a tale we have all heard countless times, but it is told in a way that is fresh and clever. It is classic southern melodrama told from Jeff Nichols, who is one of the best directors in the game, and absolutely understands cinematic story telling. Cinematic story telling isn't about using a camera to get a person from point A to point B, figuratively, its about using all that a camera can capture to bring everything to life to submerge the audience in a fictional and magical world. This is what makes Jeff Nichols such a great director, and in fact, it separates a good director from a great one. A good director can tell an original story in a good way, but a great director can take something that is tried and true, and make it feel fresh. I'm not even going to bother going into details, because there are so many things about this film that help it reach its perfect mark, so I'm just going to sum it all up as brief as I can. The whole film seems to have a running theme of perspective, because how it paints all of its characters, and nobody appears to be right or wrong, just coming from a different point of view. Ellis meets Mud and almost looks up to him, so as he starts heading down the path to manhood, its up to him to choose the correct way to go, either end up like Mud, or end up someway else. Because Mud isn't exactly a bad guy, he just got caught up in the heat of passion, and like I have said before, passion kills. The film is very serious, but Ellis' best friend, Neck bones, brings everything down to Earth with impeccable timing and fantastic comic relief, but not in a wacky way that will take you out of the film. It's almost like The Goonies, but realistic (meaning no pirates). Just kids on a real adventure to help them decide who they will be as men, and along the way learning lessons about life from who ever they can. This is also the inverse of that "movie" beautiful creatures, in that the picture that it paints of the south is very humble, yet it packs a sharp bite, without blatantly making everyone a one dimensional stereotype. The transitions show the surroundings with a majestic grace and really make you appreciate the American heartland in a way Duck Dynasty really wished that it could. This rivals Side Effects for most rounded and tightest film of the year, and may even be better than that, with perfect writing, amazing cinematography, beautiful transitions, and great acting (featuring a brief, but unforgettable, Michael Shannon) that doesn't surpass Take Shelter, but nobody ever wanted it to. It was completely satisfying, and just because its simple, that doesn't mean it isn't complex. My number two film of the year, until I can watch this and Side Effects next to each other. And the message that the film really sends to the audience is that nobody is going to draw you a map, and you have to walk your own path.
     -L.K

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