Movie Review : Mud

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Ellis (Sheridan) and Neckbone (Lofland) are 14-year-old best friends who find a boat on one of the small swamp islands along the Mississippi River. This boat is stuck high up in a tree, the perfect hiding place for a man on the run for murder. And that’s exactly who they encounter. Mud (McConaughey) is a fugitive, wanted for the murder of his on/off girlfriend Juniper’s (Witherspoon) most recent lover. He did it, he is guilty, so that is not what this movie is about.

The boys agree to help Mud fix the boat so he can continue to evade the law. They also agree to become go-between for Mud and Juniper, who has recently arrived in town. Juniper’s arrival is closely followed by the family of her murdered lover who are out for revenge. Ah yes…. the tangled webs we weave.

Ellis is also dealing with the reality that his family is breaking apart. He lives with his parents in an old ramshackle house boat and his mother wants to move into an apartment in the local town. As the boat is hers and his father does not want to live in town, they are separating. It is not what either parent wants but his mother grew up on the houseboat and is adamant. Ellis is devastated.

Both of the boys are at the age where they start to really become interested in girls. Neck has a more pragmatic approach to the female of the species whereas Ellis is quite the romantic. It is this budding romanticism that motivates his desire to see the star crossed lovers reunited and heading into the sunset of their happily ever after.

This movie is one of those quiet, Southern dramas. It’s set in a very small town that clearly moves at its own pace. Yet the themes are universal and familiar to us all. Love, loyalty, devotion, lies, truth, promises made and promise broken. How far will you go for someone you love? What if they don’t love you the way you love them? How do you do whats right when it will hurt so much?

For me, the movie was about love…. all kinds of love. First young clumsy love. Deep lasting love that will see one person sacrifice everything for the other. The desire to find love, to keep love ….. to just love. It’s also about the protection that love can provide…. and what it can take from you.

The central relationship of Mud and Juniper is retold through many sets of eyes. It is romanticised and vilified. It is Mud’s driving force and at the very core of his being…….it is also what destroys him. That fine line between pleasure and pain. I realise that is a very simplistic approach but I’m not a psychologist.

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Mud’s attachment to his shirt is something I have thought about for the last 24 hours. It is the only thing he wears throughout the entire movie. It is always clean and he is obsessed with it. He talks about the protection it offers him, almost as if it were a talisman. For a brief pivotal moment in the movie, it is the most important item in the world. I wish I could properly articulate what I am thinking but I cannot. If you can help me, your comments would be most welcome.

I loved this movie. McConaughey shows he has true acting chops and Witherspoon is at her bad girl, angsty best. But it’s the two young leads who impress. They reminded me of the boys in Stand By Me…….and that’s such a good thing. If you want to watch a wonderfully layered story with some great actors, wonderful scenery and just a quiet, subtle ambience, this is the movie for you.

Thank you to Tower Cinemas Newcastle for their hospitality.

Love Flick x

Director : Jeff Nichols

Starring : Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon,  Michael Shannon, Reese Witherspoon, Joe Don Baker, and Sam Shepard

Running Time : 130 minutes

Release Date : In cinemas now …

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