N.Y. Times guy Dennis Lim has written what amounts to an officially sanctioned acknowledgement that Matthew McConaughey has turned a significant career corner, and that he’s been doing the right thing over the last two years with intriguing, flavorful performances in Magic Mike, Mud, The Paperboy, Killer Joe, Bernie and The Lincoln Lawyer.
I’ve been feeling this way about McConaughey for over a year now. Sometime in 2009 or ’10 he must have told his agent, “I know I went along with these shitty romcoms before but it has to stop…you’re fucking killing me, man…will you get me out of this?…enough of the quarter-inch-deep, pretty-boy Kate Hudson flicks…that way lies death.”
My first acknowledgement that McConaughey had changed course was in a 5.3.11 review of The Lincoln Lawyer, to wit: “For nearly 20 years McConaughey has under-achieved. The few good films he’s been in have been mostly ensembles (Dazed and Confused, U-571, We Are Marshall, Tropic Thunder) while many of his top-billed or costarring vehicles have been romantic dogshit, especially over the last decade. Now comes The Lincoln Lawyer, the first completely decent, above-average film McConaughey has carried all on his own. By his standards that’s close to a triumph.”
I should now state that I no longer regard McConaughey as a Beelzebub-like figure, which is how I described him in a 4.21.09 piece called “The Devil Probably.” And that I no longer think of him as “King of the Empties,” which is how I put it on 7.16.06. He’s wised up, done the work, redeemed himself…no more condemnation.