Mud ★★★★½

In this movie, romantic love is a boat washed up into a tree: seemingly impossible, a little magical and scary too. Ellis, the 15-year-old protagonist, is exactly at the point in life where he is trying to figure out what love is, and in the course of the movie has his eyes opened to the various ways men and women can wrong, betray and misunderstand each other through the adult male characters around him. But there's still that boat in the tree and his relentless romanticism. This is a feel-good movie, almost to a fault -- but I can't really fault it because it made me feel too good.

If even after Magic Mike, you have been doubting Matthew McConaughey's contribution to society, this will put your doubts to rest. He is excellent. Both kids in the movie are astonishingly good and the perfect duo -- funny, fiercely loyal to each other and equally confused about navigating the open waters of adulthood ahead.

The climax of the film seemed hurriedly smashed in, especially after the quiet, measured pace of the rest of the plot, but it didn't detract too much from this surprisingly not-dark look at the beauty to be found in a part of the country most people would dismiss as dismal.

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