‘Mud’ Review and Q&A with cast and director

‘Mud’ Review and Q&A with cast and director

April 26
00:07 2013

Preston Barta

Film Critic

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Mud,” Jeff Nichols’ follow up to the criminally under seen “Take Shelter” (2011), is an entrancing coming-of-age tale that sits among classics such as “Stand By Me” (1986) and “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955).

Along with Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” of this year, “Mud” succeeds in every category of filmmaking and is a near-perfect feature that audiences should go see immediately.

The story revolves around the adventures of two teenagers, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), that come across a mysterious drifter named Mud (Matthew McConaughey), who is hiding out on an island in the Mississippi River, awaiting the arrival of his beloved Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).

Ever since 2011’s “The Lincoln Lawyer,” McConaughey has been on a roll, building quite an impressive roster of great performances, including last year’s “Killer Joe,” “Bernie” and “Magic Mike.” In “Mud,” the shirtless wonder has never been better, making his character feel genuine and real. His memorable performance should have Oscar voters’ pens ready.

Sheridan (“The Tree of Life,” 2011) and newcomer Lofland are powerful in their parts, especially for how young they are. The relationship between the two, and their interactions with Mud, are a pleasure to watch. This is largely due to the easygoing chemistry between the actors, who are all in top form.

Nichols’ passion and love for all that he creates in “Mud” is evident and clear to see. If filmgoers only watch one movie before the blockbuster season kicks off, make it this one. Audiences will not be disappointed.

The North Texas Daily sat down with writer-director Nichols and screen talents Sheridan and Lofland at the Palomar Hotel in Dallas recently to talk about their new film and the experience they had making it. To read the Q&A, visit ntdaily.com.

Q&A

You wrote both “Take Shelter” and “Mud” in the same summer. How has your approach to writing changed since your first film, “Shotgun Stories”?

Jeff Nichols: “Well, one, I figured out what I am doing a little bit more for better or worse. But, I don’t know. I developed a system early on in college when I was writing short films. I outlined very heavily, used notecards, and I don’t type a word until I know every scene of the movie. It’s all worked really well for me. I just finished a new script and it was the same process. So I think it’s more about how you evolve as a person and as a storyteller – the theme you try to tackle and how you deal with it. But that’s not a great answer to your question [Laughs].”

How was it working with Matthew McConaughey?

Nichols: “I wrote the part of Mud for him. I conceived of it with him in mind. I had just seen ‘Lonestar,’ which was back in the late 90s. I thought, ‘Yeah. That guy is perfect. That’s who I want to hangout on an island with.’”

Tye Sheridan: “It’s really cool to work with people who have a lot of experience because you can always learn from them.”

Nichols: “I mean the kid worked with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain in ‘The Tree of Life’ before this, so it’s kind of a step down [Laughs]. I’m kidding. I didn’t mean that.”

Jacob Lofland: “Working with Matthew was really awesome because he was the first real actor that I got to see, other than Tye [Laughs]. To see him in character was really amazing.”

You all had to work with a lot of snakes in “Mud.” How was that experience?

Sheridan: “It was really hard to stay focused. I remember it being real cold that day. When the snake wrangler showed up I was like, ‘Oh yeah, here we go.’”

Lofland: “You can’t see it but everybody was on the bank right behind where he was, standing up, looking down at him, and every time he opened his eyes– it was funny. It took a few takes.”

Sheridan: “Yeah. They took this big trashcan of a hundred real snakes and dumped it on my midsection. They would just crawl up. I’m glad I got to do it, but it was a tough scene.”

Nichols: “Don’t worry. They weren’t poisonous.”

If you were dropped into a similar situation and you saw someone like Matthew’s character in real life, do you think you would react the same way as your character?

Sheridan: “I don’t know. I might be a little more cautious. I think he’s an interesting dude. He’s just one of those guys that someone could immediately like.”

Lofland: “If I was in that situation, I think I would act just about the same way I did in the movie [Laughs]. I would be on my toes.”

“Mud” opens today.

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