Of love and the river, Jeff Nichol’s Mud
US director Jeff Nichol’s Mud has the honour of being the last film première in competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival. Last but not necessarily least.
Mud is the name of one of the two main characters in Nichol’s eponymous film, which takes place on the banks of the Mississippi.
He’s a man on the run – away from the law and a hit man and towards his first love who keeps giving him the slip.
The other leading character is Ellis, a 14-year-old boy who’s on the point of falling in love for the first time and whose parents are on the point of divorce.
Nichols, whose second feature film Take Shelter won the Cannes Critic’s Week festival’s Grand Prize last year, pulls off the challenge of making a film which talks about the complexity of love in a simple way.
Nichols directs a dramatic adventure story in a largely undramatised way.
Ellis and his parents in particular, Ellis’s friend Neckbone and his uncle, come across as very ordinary, contained folk.
15-year-old Tye Sheridan who also acted in the Cannes Palm winner last year, Terence Malick’s Tree of Life, is impressive as Ellis. And another repeat offender, Matthew McConaughey, from this year’s festival in Lee Daniel’s Paper Boy, is the heroic anti-hero, Mud.
Nichols cites Mark Twain declaration that the Mississippi is not an ordinary river in his director’s note of intent. It is in all aspects remarkable. For Nichols, the same can be said for love.