When I think of Matthew McConaughey as the title character in writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Mud, I think that is the most spot on casting I have ever seen. Even better than Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, or Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Kimble. Mud is a simple man. He lives on an island in the middle of an Arkansas river in a boat that was lodged in a tree after a flood. He eats beans directly out of can. He also probably wears no deodorant. His parents must have been clairvoyant.
Mud actually follows the lives of two little boys who travel to the island to find the boat, not knowing that Mud is actually living there. When they discover Mud they strike up a friendship and the boys agree to help Mud survive on the island until someone comes to get him and in exchange they can have the boat. It’s a sweet tale that deals a lot with love, forgiveness, and moving on. The main little boy, played by Tye Sheridan, is just a mirror image of Mud and follows a lot of Mud’s missteps, but is ultimately set on the right path with the help of Mud.
What I liked most about this movie was its honesty. None of the characters in this movie, good or bad, have ulterior motives. They are who they are and they are not afraid to express it. While I sat there and waited for Mud to turn into some monster it never happened. There are several father figures in the movie and not one of them is abusive or a drunk, which I think is the first place most film makers would run to. Because of this I constantly found myself guessing where each of the story arcs was going. There are the typical story points, but for the most part the characters only become better versions of themselves. There’s plenty of heart, drama, and humor as well.
I also think it’s habit for more artsy films to go straight to dark places and give you the most depressing ending you could possibly imagine. Mud actually has a happy ending. I’m okay with a gloomy ending, but every once in a while I need a happy ending. It almost cleanses the pallet. There’s even a somewhat thrilling gun battle to finish things off.
I haven’t seen any of Jeff Nichols’ other movies, but I’ve heard good things so if you like his other works then I recommend you watch Mud.
10 out of 11
Follow Jim on Twitter: Redsixx
About the movie
Synopsis: Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and to reunite him with his true love.
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon
Director: Jeff Nichols
Run time: 130 min