Mud -–– directed and written by Jeff Nichols. Drama. Two fourteen year old boys set out to rescue a derelict on a desert island. 230 minutes Color 2013.
Is Michael McConaughey despicable?
There are such things as despicable in the realm of acting. Shelley Winters? Yes. Jack Palance? Certainly. This does not mean they are bad actors. They have their uses. And long careers even.
McConaughey, with his sleazy confidence and smug affect– one steers clear of him, repelled. Partly because all of this is found to be mighty sexy by certain females.
And it is true that he has presence, moves interestingly, his face takes the camera well, he has a wonderful figure when stripped, fine sloping shoulders, a handsome back of his head, and the most beautiful speaking voice in film since Charles Boyer. My goodness. So Southern. So ruthlessly seductive. So smart. So all things Texas.
Despicable. As romantic leads. Playing what he calls Saturday boys. The sexually confident one in a modern comedy. Despicable. But here we have him actually playing a despicable character, and he is not despicable at all. He is quite fine, and all the character requires him to be: off-hand, devoted to a cause outside himself, efficient. He is well cast as a male whose body has nothing left but his masculinity, and nothing to do but devote his whole male being to a woman with it.
He is not a trained actor, but rather one of those who wandered in off the street like Gary Cooper and someone put a movie camera in front of him, and it took. Nor is it any mark against it that he comes to his craft untrained. Many a fine actor has done the same. He single-handedly wrecked Spielberg’s Amador with his mod beat jarred up against the era of John Quincy Adams, but what else could he do? He was incapable of anything else. And there are a lot of actors whom you can’t put into costume. Jimmy Stewart would head the list. Lots of them.
But here he is and he’s really worth being with. And so is everyone else in this fine and unusual picture. Which is really about a fourteen year-old boy who lives in a bayou houseboat with bickering parents. Living off subsistence fishing, the boy, well played by Tye Sheridan, comes upon McConaughey, as Mud, living in a boat in a tree on a desert island in the sea. The boy and his buddy get caught up in the romance of Mud’s needs which consist of his yearning for a rapprochement with his old sweetheart, Reese Witherspoon.
Everyone is dandy, and the setting and the story and the adventure keep one attentive right up to the end which is a bit more patly worked out than the texture of the material promises, but never mind. We have Sam Shepard, super as a cranky coot, leading a fine supporting cast. And fascinating are the settlings, the place, the world of the fisher folk. And completely believable is all those two boys dare on their secret rescue of Mr. M.