Mud writer/director Jeff Nichols had wanted to cast McConaughey as the title character ever since seeing him in Lone Star in 1996. It took 17 years, but Nichols finally got what he wanted. In a story inspired by the works of Mark Twain, Mud seems an almost mythic character, having emerged directly from the elements of earth and water, as his name suggests. Two modern-day boys find him while he’s a fugitive on an island in the Mississippi River. They agree to help him repair his boat and try to reunite him with his estranged girlfriend, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).
As in Twain, the boys discover that the civilized veneer of their town is a fragile façade hiding a world of tribal violence, and that the outcasts may be better human beings than the self-righteous grown-ups who scorn them. McConaughey’s character is an unholy mess of a man, but, as with the very different Buddy Deeds, he finds a core of nobility and valor beneath the stereotype.
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