One part romantic drama and one part coming-of-age adventure, all with a touch of Mark Twain influence, Mud marks another hit for writer/director Jeff Nichols, who manages to capture such versatile themes and stories in his filmography while keeping a distinct, homely style to his works. Nichols' work always has a authenticity to it that makes all of the emotions of each story feel truly genuine, and that greatly benefits the story Nichols tells in this particular case. In dealing with growing up and the hardships of falling in love, this is a story that requires a delicate approach in order to truly make this themes resonate, and Nichols manages to do just that. Matthew McConaughey continues a hot streak of deep roles perfect for him to show off his dramatic acting chops with, and gives his character a sense of warmth behind his mystery, but this is first and foremost Tye Sheridan's film to own. In his first leading role (and second film role overall), Sheridan crafts a character who makes you feel every emotion he's put through: his struggles are genuinely upsetting, which makes his successes feel all the better. His character just feels real, which circles back to Nichols' strength as a writer and a director. Even when dealing with potentially fantastical elements, his films look and feel like real life. It's that kind of tone, mixed here with a sense of southern charm and heart, that makes Mud work so well.