Mud (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Mud</strong> (2012)

(On Cable TV, January 2014) A coming-of-age drama blended with a crime thriller may not strike anyone as particularly promising movie experience, but thanks to writer/director Jeff Nichols’ savvy, Mud quickly becomes compelling viewing. After two teenage boys discover a fugitive living alone on an abandoned Mississippi island, they get drawn into a dangerous game between his girlfriend, bounty hunters and the adults in their lives. Matthew McConaughey scores another solid post-Lincoln Lawyer role as the titular Mud, a fugitive who ends up fascinating audiences as much as he mesmerizes his two teenage helpers. From a deceptively slow-paced first act, Mud gets wilder and more urgent as it goes on, culminating in a strong shoot-out that settles things for most characters. The sense of place in rural Arkansas is well-presented, and the banter between the two teenage leads is just as well-crafted: At times, the images were powerful enough to strongly remind me of my own teenage antics in rural Quebec. There’s a good heart in this picture, but enough hard edges to avoid it turning into a mawkish collection of clichés. While it may not sound like much of a high-concept on paper, Mud is quite a bit better than expected.

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