Mud Blu-ray Review
Remember in STAND BY ME when the gang went out to look for a dead body? They ended up having quite an adventure. Well an adventure of another kind awaits Ellis (Sheridan) and his friend, Neckbone (Lofland) as they too make their way through the woods. Their quest – a deserted island where, rumor has it, a boat sits nestled high in a tree, placed there by a recent storm. The boys have their own small boat but this one is the Queen Mary compared to theirs. Their plans are detoured when they discover a stranger is living in the boat. A man named Mud.
A well written drama, MUD is the rare film that does not treat teenagers like hormonally challenged idiots. Both Ellis and Neck are responsible fourteen-year olds. Both help out at home and help earn money. When they finally meet up with Mud they learn that he is on the run from a vicious group of people looking to kill him. He tells them that he killed a man in Texas after the man assaulted his girlfriend. Now bounty hunters, hired by the dead man’s father, are hot on his trail. After some discussion and bartering they decide to help Mud fix-up the boat and use it for his getaway. A mysterious man, they only know that Mud at one time lived in their small town. They also learn his girlfriend (Reese Witherspoon) is now in town, hoping to meet up with him. Using the boys as go-betweens, he communicates with her through notes. While this adventure is happening away from home, Ellis endures another at home. He lives with his mother and father on a houseboat, where his father catches the fish that support the family. Ellis’ mom wants to move to town while dad likes life where it is. Ellis is also at that age where boys begin to think of girls as more then annoyances. He meets an older (16 year old) woman (Bonnie Sturdivant) and goes on his first date. All in all a pretty busy summer for anyone.
Give credit to writer/director Nichols for giving his characters to such fine actors. With recent work in KILLER JOE and MAGIC MIKE it appears that McConaughey has gotten the rom-com mode of films out of his system. His work here is among his best ever and gives another glimpse at the promise he showed in his first major role, A TIME TO KILL, seventeen years ago. Both Sheridan and Lofland are equally impressive in what are basically their film debuts (Sheridan had a small role in Terrence Malick’s THE TREE OF LIFE in 2011). Their performances are strong and believable. Nichols has also filled the cast with a who’s who of talented character actors including Sam Shepard, Joe Don Baker, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson and Michael Shannon.
As equal a star is the beautiful Arkansas countryside. Be it the dark woods or the sweeping bayous, cinematographer Adam Stone takes it all in with his cameras. Equally important is the musical score by David Wingo, who gives each scene its own life musically.
MUD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The film is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is sharp with all of the colors of the state of Arkansas prominent. There are some darker scenes, mostly in the woods, but that is to be expected.
Audio: The film is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The dialogue is well mixed as are the many outdoor scenes where you hear everything nature has to say.
Audio Commentary: Director Nichols delivers an outstanding commentary. It’s obvious in his words that this was a project that was very near and dear to him and that affection is obvious when you listen.
A Personal Tale (11:37): Nichols again, detailing his efforts to make a film featuring his home state.
The Arkansas Ensemble (7:11): A look at the cast.
Southern Authenticity (6:14): Another Nichols featurette, this one detailing his desire to “write a poem” on film for his native state.
The Snake Pit (1:30): A quick peek at the making of a crucial scene in the film.