I watched the film earlier today and I'll start with the criticisms and then move on...
The 'shootout' felt like it belonged in a different film with a tone that was so different than everything that had came before. The film hints at that level of violence earlier with several fist fights and threats but it still felt somewhat out of place. As I recall a similar film, Ulee's Gold, had a violent confrontation at its finale; but it was more measured, if I recall correctly. (It has been a lot of years since I viewed that fine film, so I could be wrong.)
As much as I enjoy Michael Shannon as an actor, his scenes could have been cut from the film as they really don't drive the narrative perhaps beyond establishing Neck Bone's family history.
To be sure, these are both minor criticisms of a fine film that I enjoyed quite a bit.
The boys were both terrific three dimensional characters with their relationship being the 'meat' of the film. I was pleasantly surprised that so much of the film was a 'coming of age' film dealing with these two individuals. As others have stated, there were echoes of Stand By Me in this film which were really well executed.
McConaughey's screen presence and natural charm were a perfect match for the character of Mud. His nearly endless optimism with regards to the love of his life struck a chord with Ellis who had similar feelings on the topic. This optimism and the innocence of Ellis' character was one of the most appealing aspects of the film for me. Despite some of the hard lessons he learned during the course of the film, Ellis was still hopeful which ingratiated me to his character and the performance of the fine young actor portraying him.
Growing up in a rural setting the outdoors sequence really felt authentic, especially the types of adventures young boys would go on in the countryside. Exploring, finding odd things in the outdoors, dealing with snakes and other animals, etc.
A solid film that was very enjoyable to view.
Fans of this film and Michael Shannon in general would be well served by director Nichols' earlier effort Take Shelter, which features a compelling, flawless performance from Michael Shannon.
Edited by Walter Kittel, August 24 2013 - 04:33 PM.