This is a purely audio and video review of the new film Mud. It will not cover characters or plot so if you wish to read about that you should check out the regular review of the film here.
The images presented in Mud come across with a very realistic and authentic visual quality. Colors are somewhat subdued and don’t distract the audience in any way, shape, or form. The film doesn’t shy away from showing the reddish-orange skin tone of Mathew McConaughey’s character which exacerbates his character being a sun-loving, outdoorsy type of person. Due to the content presented in each shot, the film has an overall brown color palette. Everything has a nice gritty or “muddy” feeling to it which helps place it within the film’s rural setting. Contrast is minimal which helps enforce the down-to-earth tone with only nighttime scenes seeing a jump in black versus white. The use of natural light is reinforced with hardly any shots having noticeable additional lighting sources.
Details seen are somewhat soft but not to the point of being blurry. Compared to most independent films made nowadays, Mud tends to use only a somewhat shallow depth of field which helps showoff the landscape that the characters are placed within. Each frame is meticulously thought-out with every inch being used in one way or another. Close-ups and extreme close-ups are used sparingly but when they are used there is definitely a reason for doing so. Most shots hold for quite some time but aren’t tedious or boring and help with the dramatic tension throughout the film. Steadicam and tripod type shots are numerous with only action-oriented scenes using the “shaky-cam” effect.
The sound of silence and simple ambient noises are what make up the majority of Mud’s audio. Since the film is a drama, having realistic sound effects really sets the film’s overall tone. Dialogue is clear and concise with every word uttered being a dream to listen to. The sounds of crackling fire during certain scenes or the sounds of creaky old wood during others add to the extremely nature driven world that the film creates. There are numerous scenes that feature a gas powered boat engine which has a practical resonance that is just thunderous enough to sound real but not to the point of overpowering character’s voices.
Music is present all the way through the film but is only used when it is truly needed. The attitude of the music is mostly solemn but with a hint of Bluegrass thrown in. String instruments are what drive the score forward with menacing elements intertwining with the action presented on the screen. The music that hits as soon as the ending titles pop up is much more upbeat and enlightening than what is heard before that time in the film. It gives the film a nice send off that make you want to smile from ear to ear. Even though most of the score is especially low and non-threatening there is only one scene I can think of where the score truly roared to a high volume which assisted in the action shown within the scene.
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