Saturday 26 May 2012

Mud - Premiere at Cannes Film Festival

Finally on my last day at Cannes I have seen a brilliant film. After ten films, some good, some bad and some great, Mud has come along completely unexpected, and hit me with it's subtle power. It's true that knowing nothing about a film is a great way to go in with a completely open mind. I had no idea what it was about, and it was only at 11.30 this morning I was able to get a ticket for the 3pm screening in the Grand Theatre Lumiere. This was a packed screening, and the thunderous applause at the end, was well deserved.

So who or what is Mud? Well at last Matthew McConaughey has found a truly great role, one that he was born to play. We all know about his fondness for minimal clothing and general scruffy appearance, and he is a natural as the fugitive Mud. Two young boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan, last seen in The Tree of Life) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland, who brings to mind a young River Pheonix) discover a boat stranded up a tree on an island in the middle of a river near their homes. On closer inspection, they realize someone else has come across the boat, and this leads them to Mud. I was reminded of 'Stand by Me', as the boys come to the aid of Mud in trying to help him evade capture and regain his true love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon, taking a break thank heavens from the many rom-coms she has been doing). Sam Shepherd is well cast a the mysterious man who lives across from Ellis, on his houseboat.
Against the back drop of rural Arkansas, and life along the river, we see Ellis's parents marriage crumbling, just as Ellis is getting interested in girls and falling in love. His world is coming apart, and he turns to Mud, as someone he can look up to and help. Much of the gentle humor comes from his best friend Neckbone, or Neck for short, and the two embark on their secret adventure. Having just done a trip a few months ago along the Mississippi, the scenery was so familiar. I am not sure if they filmed on the Mississippi but it sure looked like it.

This is the third film from writer/director Jeff Nichols. He achieved critical acclaim for 'Take Shelter' in 2011, and whilst I missed that I will definitely try see it now, as I loved Mud so much. After seeing so many films at the Festival, it's great to see such an excellent story so well executed. Tye Sheridan is going to have a wonderful future, and I even think he is a contender for best actor. Nichols has a way with bringing out the best from the rawness of the scenery and his actors, there is nothing fussy or overdone in this film, and I think that is what gives it its power. He is from Arkansas himself and obviously loves the simple beauty of the landscape.
Most of the talk down here though is that Denis Lavant from 'Holy Motors' will win best actor, but we shall find out tomorrow night.  Concerning the best film, I believe Mud is in the running, however 'Love' by Michael Haneke is still the favourite. The main screening for Mud is tonight at 7pm, so I will stroll down to see if among the crowds and the paparazzi, I can see the cast make their way up the now so familiar red carpet to the Grand Theatre Lumiere.

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