Two brazen young boys, Ellis and Neckbone, befriend a dangerous fugitive they discover living in a boat in a tree on a remote island in Arkansas.

The mysterious man is called Mud (Matthew McConaughey). He is charismatic, tough and needs nothing but the shirt on his back and a pistol for protection – but he is lovesick too.

Having had a serious brush with the law, Mud must evade bounty hunters and the state police if he wants to be reunited with the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). He needs the help of the boys to do it – as well as their wits and resources.

The passionate Ellis (played by Tye Sheridan) is willing to help Mud for the sake of love – Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) is on-board as long as he gets to keep the tree-boat.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Mud is a coming-of-age story that beautifully captures the naivety of youth and the often difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The film explores grand themes such as nostalgia, love, friendship and innocence in a steady-paced, delicate way.

Matthew McConaughey leads the film well, but the strongest performances come from Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland as the two young Southern boys. They have a true, raw talent and portray two rural adventurers excellently. A cameo from the legendary Sam Shepard is another performance highlight.

Jeff Nichols is a skilled director and storyteller – he perfectly captures what it is like to be a child caught up in an adult’s world and uses his own love of the Deep South to give an authentic sense of place to the film.

A great American film, Mud is a sun-soaked picture, with plenty of heart-warming, humorous moments. A must-see.

Mud is in cinemas May 10.