For many critics “Mud,” Jeff Nichols’ follow-up to well-reviewed “Take Shelter,” which won the Critics’ Week Cannes sidebar last year, was one of the most highly anticipated films this year. It is also one of the few films, along with Lee Daniels’ “Paperboy,” that is up for grabs by American distributors. Most assume that “Take Shelter” buyer Sony Pictures Classics will land the film. An early buyers’ screening yielded negative buzz on the Croisette, but seller FilmNation’s Glen Basner insists that the festival frowns on rival press screenings and that they were confident in the film’s ultimate playability with critics and audiences alike.
Here are Variety and The Playlist reviews; we’ll supplement as more come in.
If “Take Shelter” embodied man’s crushing inability to cope with forces beyond his control, and “Shotgun Stories” examined a blood feud from the side of those in the wrong, then ascending writer-director Jeff Nichols blends the turbulent waters of the former with the dirty dealings of the latter to make “Mud.” Confidently expanding his inquiry into the essence of American masculity, Nichols’ latest pressure-cooker pastoral conjures a wily figure of endangered Southern chivalry whose name is … you guessed it. Sturdy turns from Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon should support a wide release, curbed somewhat by pic’s unhurried pace and heavy regional temperament.
“Mud,” American writer/director Jeff Nichols’ underwhelming follow-up to the masterfully visceral “Take Shelter,” is both a shallow and contrived coming of age story. While both ‘Shelter’ and “Shotgun Stories,” Nichols’ promising debut feature, explore their respective characters’ motives and emotions, “Mud” instead offers pat sentiments and bland bathos.