Rated 3.0

Two Arkansas teenagers (Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland) discover on a small island in the Mississippi River a boat stranded in a tree by some flood—and living in it, a scruffy character (Matthew McConaughey), who appears to be on the run, with a backstory that they boys are irresistibly drawn into. Writer-director Jeff Nichols' movie has a story that doesn't always persuade, yet there's something oddly compelling, even haunting about it. Despite an almost sluggish pace, Nichols nevertheless finds the rhythm of Southern rural village life with its wary think-hard-before-you-speak watchfulness. Performances are excellent, especially by the two boys; others include Ray McKinnon and Sarah Paulson as Sheridan's parents, Michael Shannon as Lofland's uncle, and Reese Witherspoon as McConaughey's damaged girlfriend.