Two boy’s, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), venture to an Island in the Mississippi where they find a boat stuck in a tree. Excited by the prospect of finding something they can have for themselves, they soon realize that a man has been living in it. His name is Mud (Matthew McConaughey), he recruits the boys to gather food and complete tasks for him as he reveals his predicament. Ellis sympathizes with him and soon enough a strong bond is created.
The film revolves around the theme of love as we see Ellis try to understand it in both harsh and warm ways. Mud has been in love with Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) since childhood but he doesn’t see that love being shared back, yet he continues to pursue her. Similar to Eliss’s mother towards his father but that love has deteriorated over time. This make’s Eliss’s father cynical towards women and their affection, telling Ellis “you can’t trust women, they’ll never love you back”, Ellis fail’s to believe him as he continues to help Mud, mislead to think that Juniper’s love is shared back. From this point we know that Ellis is a strong believer in love, he is 14, on his way to adulthood but naive towards the heartache love can cause. His heart is strong which is why he is not afraid of helping people.
This film exposes love in many shapes and sizes. We have Neckbone and his uncle who takes care of him like a father, you may not get a large glimpse of it but they share unconditional love. The head of the crime family attempting to avenge the murder of his son, they go about expressing their love differently, and in the end we wonder if it was all worth it. Mud is a coming of age film about love and letting go, accepting what won’t work and getting back up and trying again just as Neckbone’s uncle says “if you get your heart broke, don’t walk around with a shit look on your face, get back in there and get your tip wet”. In terms of coming of age films this is the most unique one I’ve seen as it explores its themes using an uncommon plot. The narrative is compelling which makes us root for the characters and feel strong emotions for them even if they aren’t all good guys.
What I liked about it is that it’s not melodramatic or sappy, it doesn’t try its hardest to make us bawl our eyes out, it tell’s the story as honestly as possible with great performances and southern settings. We truly care for the characters and I think that’s what makes this film so masterful, we can relate and genuinely connect with the story. This is totally down to precision writing and execution on screen, of course it couldn’t have been achieved without the actors.
Matthew McConaughey has once again come up with a great performance. He’s reviving his career like a total boss, coming out with consecutive wins of films. He proves this with his raw grit and ability to dig deep to play these roles making his way to being one of the best actors today. In the process he’s getting rid of his hot bod reputation even if we do see him with his shirt off. Young stars Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland also kill it with their performances and should be looking at big futures as we get a great sense of their friendship on screen.
Mud is a respectable addition to the list of great coming of age films and hopefully will get some recognition during award season. A must watch for 2013.