Here's the thing: Not every movie has to be a feminist tract or even have a female hero, but it is hard to ignore that Jeff Nichols' Mud lacks a single female character that isn't actively breaking the hearts of the men. The hunky Mud (Matthew McConaughey in full drawl) is a fugitive who enlists the help of Arkansas teenagers Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) to help Mud reunite with his self-destructive girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), while both Ellis' mother (Sarah Paulson) and his crush (Bonnie Sturdivant) find ways to betray him without showing any redeeming qualities. Again, there's nothing inherently wrong with unsympathetic female characters — people being not-nice is the essence of drama, after all — but couldn't Ellis at least have, like, a female schoolteacher who encourages him to follow his heart or something? Mud's tagline could easily be Bros Before Hos, and Nichols does cast some quality bros in supporting roles, including Sam Shepard, Joe Don Baker, and Michael Shannon, who exudes his usual weird intensity even when his face is obscured by an old-timey diving helmet. And in the unlikely event that McConaughey is nominated for an Oscar, hopefully they'll show the clip in which he devours an entire can of Beanee Weanees in real time.
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