Movie Review: Mud (2013)

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Drama
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Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland)  are both 14 year olds who live on the river in a small Arkansas town.  They find a nearly deserted island with a boat stuck in a tree.  They find a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) living on the boat.  He’s down on his luck, and he says he’s waiting for a woman named Juniper(Reese Witherspoon to come get him off the island.  Ellis is taken by Mud and starts bringing him food from town.  While in town, Ellis sees Juniper, and tells Mud about it.  Mud asks Ellis and Neckbone to take a note to Juniper and help him fix up the boat.  On a drive with his mother, Mary Lee, (Sarah Paulson) Ellis learns some things about Mud that don’t necessarily jibe with Mud’s heroic description of himself.  Does Ellis deliver the note to Juniper?  Do he and Neckbone help Mud fix up the boat, despite what Ellis now knows about him?

Mud is simply a great movie.  It’s a movie about love, and how far people are willing to go for the love of another person.  Like love, the movie is both complex and simple at the same time.  It’s part coming of age film, part Huck Finn riverboat adventure, and it really is worth a viewing.  It tries to draw a parallel between Mud’s love life and Ellis’ burgeoning love life, but that is probably the weakest part of the movie.  Here’s what I really like about Mud, this is a movie populated with blue collar Southern people and not a stereotypical character in the bunch.  These are hard-working honest people who love their families, and work hard to keep them together, and that kind of honesty is hard to find in Hollywood movies today.  The ending is disappointing, and the overall length is a tad long, but that aside, this is an excellent film.

The acting is superb.  McConaughey reaffirmed my faith in his acting abilities, it’s been a long time since he did Amistad, and A Time To Kill, this easily rivals his best work. It’s an understated yet commanding performance, and it’s a pleasure to see that he’s still capable of such a performance.  Reese Witherspoon also gives a strong performance in a comeback of sorts, it’s been 8 years since her Oscar winning performance in Walk the Line.  Sheridan and Lofland are very convincing as adolescents finding out about life the hard way.  Sarah Paulson gives another strong performance as a conflicted mother, torn between her happiness and that of her family.  Paulson was a standout in 12 Years A Slave.  Sam Shepard throws in an excellent performance as Mud’s confidante.  The good performances abound in this film.

I must mention the writing in this movie, because it maintains a good balance between love story, and suspenseful drama.  He also directed this film, and wrote and directed the suspense thriller Take Shelter.

Mud:  A mudder of a movie.


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