|SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK|
dir-scr Jeff Nichols
prd Lisa Maria Falcone, Sarah Green, Aaron Ryder
with Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, Joe Don Baker, Bonnie Sturdivant, Paul Sparks, Michael Abbott Jr
release US 26.Apr.13, UK 10.May.13
Whistle down the wind: Sheridan, Lofland and McConaughey
CANNES FILM FEST
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Nichols is a gifted writer-director who knows how to get into the heads of his characters. And this film has superior actors who create people who are intriguing and hugely involving. But the overlong running time makes the story drag badly, straining our patience to the point where we don't really mind how things end.
Ellis (Sheridan) is a shy but tough 14-year-old in backwoods Arkansas, running around having Huck Finn-style adventures on the waterways with his best pal Neckbone (Lofland). When they investigate rumours of a treed boat on a small island, they discover Mud (McConaughey), who turns out to be on the run from the cops for murder. But they like him, so decide to help him escape and reunite with his girlfriend Juniper (Witherspoon), who's hiding in a local hotel. For assistance they turn to the scary old man (Shepard) across the river.
Nichols creates a relaxed tone that captures the rhythms of youthful curiosity and boyish adventures. Conversations are minimalistic and rely more on telling glances than wordy exposition. And the actors invest each scene with earthy realism. Sheridan and Lofland are especially strong in fairly demanding roles, while McConaughey and Witherspoon play showier people who stretch them in new directions. Most of the other characters settle around the edges adding tension or emotion as needed.
The film is beautifully shot by Adam Stone to capture the fascinating settings and expressive performances. And the film has a meandering, slow pace, like a boat drifting down the river. This effectively echoes the pace of the local culture, although it makes the film feel like it's never going to get to the climax of the story. Still, it allows Nichols to capture tiny details along the way.
And essentially this is a film about small things that happen that feel earth-shattering. Yes, there are some big events along the way (Mud is running from an angry, armed posse), but the best scenes are the sly flirting between Ellis and Juniper, the haunted face of Neckbone's helpless guardian (Shannon), or a school skirmish regarding a girl (Sturdivant) Ellis likes. So even if the film feels a little dry, it at least conveys a sense of its own depth.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
|Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.|
© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
HOME | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK