Directed by Jeff Nichols
Joe Don Baker
Running time: 130 minutes
Two young boys find a man who calls himself Mud hiding out on a small island on the Mississippi River. They later learn he is a fugitive and question him about it. Mud claims he killed a man who was abusing the woman he loves and he plans to repair a damaged boat that’s on the island then reunite with the woman and escape. The boys agree to help Mud with his mission.
I think I remember one blogger comparing Mud to Stand By Me which got my interest as that’s one of my all-time favorite movies. Mud isn’t up there with that one but the comparison makes sense in that this is a coming-of-age drama about two boys (of 14, I think). The story focuses mainly on the boy named Ellis, whose parents are divorcing. He also thinks he’s in love with a girl from school so he’s a big ‘ol bag of mixed teenage hormonal emotions. His friend, with the kick ass name of Neckbone, isn’t so much the focus of the film but I really liked him as he reminded me a lot of River Phoenix in Stand By Me, especially with his haircut. Both boys were great and I hope they go on to do more films after this one. They’re what made the movie.
Matthew McConaughey has never really been to my taste (or to many people’s, I think). I did like him in this, though, and I like that he’s been doing more serious roles and seems to be becoming a more highly respected actor lately (Mud is the only one I’ve seen of his more serious roles but I have to admit I liked him in Dazed And Confused as I’m from a small town and I knew a guy EXACTLY like his pervy loser). He’s a mysterious character and you never really know if the boys should fully trust him.
This movie has a slow pace and is more about the characters than about Mud’s story. It won’t be for everyone and I’d only recommend it to those who think they may like it based on what I’ve said so far. McConaughey and especially the two boys give very good performances and you’ll find that you just want a happy ending for them all. The plot itself is quite unique compared to other films and I liked that – it felt like a “fresh” idea even though there wasn’t a lot to it. This movie has the feel of the early 80’s way of life (which I’d totally go back to if I had a time machine) and I actually wondered for a while if this was set in the 80s or if that’s just how things still are these days in Arkansas. I don’t mean that in a bad way – it’s just a very different lifestyle and one that someone living somewhere like London might not be able to relate to but, being from small-town Midwest, it made me a little homesick. Overall, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit and the only weak thing, unfortunately, was Reese Witherspoon who didn’t seem right for her role. Otherwise, I can’t really think of anything bad to say about Mud.
My Rating: 7.5/10