12 posts tagged Reese Witherspoon
Jeff Nichols’ third feature film, Mud, is like a breath of fresh air amid all the high velocity blockbusters that have started to trickle in for the summer. The Arkansas-set coming-of-age tale features the magnetic talents of Matthew McConaughey in the titular role, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon, American Horror Story’s Sarah Paulson, Sons of Anarchy’s Ray McKinnon, Jacob Lofland, Boardwalk Empire’s Paul Sparks and Nichols muse Michael Shannon (whom the writer/director has worked with in all three films). Mud is a wanted man whose refuge on an island is stumbled upon by a pair of wide-eyed, inquisitive teenage boys, Ellis (Sheridan) and Neckbone (Lofland). What starts out as curiosity towards this uninhibited, man vs wild-type character evolves into sort of a mentorship for the boys. They help Mud evade the authorities and a couple of Texan bounty hunters in an attempt to reunite him with the love of his life, the enigmatic Juniper (Witherspoon). It’s a story that in some ways is big in scale, yet Nichols and his characters always seem to have their two feet on the ground. Mud ushers in the trending return of the great American drama. It’s a unique, well-written story with some brilliant performances and an excellent soundtrack.
This was perhaps my favorite Matthew McConaughey role. The actor was subtle yet fascinating to watch, and his Mud was an endlessly exciting man with a kind of authentic simplicity about him that didn’t feel fake for someone who is played by a Hollywood megastar. This seems to be the zenith of Matthew McConaughey. His choice of roles has been very interesting of late and it looks like he’s exploring more complex characters and much less bombastic stories. The scene stealer of Mud, however, was Tye Sheridan, who gave a performance that was confident, nuanced, but also earnest and charming. He reminded me a lot of a young Brad Renfro during his days in The Cure and The Client, or even a young River Phoenix, as in Stand by Me. This is certainly a young actor to watch, and I was amazed at the complex mixture of maturity and naïvete that his character embodied. Ray McKinnon, as per usual, was brilliant in the film as Ellis’ stubborn father. He has the rare ability to sink deep into each of his roles to a point where it no longer feels like we’re watching a character performance, but a real person. Michael Shannon had a small but entertaining part in the film, and normally I would complain that he was criminally underused, but considering everything else in the movie, it seemed like the perfect decision to have him play the role of Neckbone’s quirky but caring uncle.
Perhaps what I loved most about the film was the way it depicted teenagers. It wasn’t patronizing or condescending, but it treated teenagers the way they ought to be treated: with respect and acknowledgment at their ability to demonstrate real prowess when they set their minds to something. Often we see coming-of-age films that entail teenagers struggling with their bouts of hubris. It’s always the same tired tale of learning life lessons based on having done something awful. These films have sort of an I-told-you-so vibe which, depending on how it’s executed, may come off preachy. In Mud’s case, the young Ellis is the moral compass of the story. A hopeless romantic, he believes in absolutes - unconditional and everlasting love, always saying what you mean and giving people benefits of the doubt, no matter now naïve this may seem to others. In a way he represents the idealism that youth possesses, the innocence of being at a stage of life where the world is at your feet yet everyone around you seems to act in ways that make possibilities seem limited.
The scene in Cruel Intentions when Annette (Reese Witherspoon) slaps Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) was unscripted. Witherspoon and Phillippe were so caught up in the scene that she slapped him unexpectedly, and Phillippe’s reaction is genuine. Phillippe was so into the scene that right after the director said cut, he went behind the set and threw up. The director left the scene in the final cut (x).
Election (1999) - directed by Alexander Payne. Starring Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Klein.
None of this would have happened if Mr. McAllister hadn’t meddled the way he did. He should have just accepted things as they are instead of trying to interfere with destiny. You see, you can’t interfere with destiny. That’s why it’s destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing’s going to happen anyway, and you’ll just suffer.
submitted by danthom.