Review: Mud is a film that brims with emotions, particularly love. The film is about love; about the things that people do when in love and when in search of love.
Set in Arkansas, which is director Jeff Nichol’s hometown; the film promises you a visual treat, complete with forests, lakes, lakeside cabin-houses, country-folk and serene sunsets.
The effort that Nichol’s has taken in moulding each and every character in the film is worth a mention. Ellis (Tye Sheridan) all of 14, our supposed protagonist has to face the bitter truth that his parents are on their way to get a divorce. Angry and helpless Ellis finds solace in helping Mud (Matthew McConaughey) to reunite with his love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Mud is a murder convict hiding in a deserted island in the Missisippi. Ellis and Neckbones’ (Jacob Lofland) arrival on the island is very reminiscent of Ralph and Piggy’s arrival on the isolated island of the Pacific ocean in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (however landing on the isolated island and their hunger for adventure is all that Bones and Ellis have in common with Ralph and Piggy). Neckbones and Ellis, who are best buddies and each other’s confidants, work hard to make Mud and Juniper reunite. The dangerous nature of Ellis and Neckbone’s undertaking establishes an eerie feeling that all’s not going to be well for the two boys, especially for Ellis who is madly driven to make things work for Mud and Juniper.
Nichol’s has beautifully brought about the theme of coming-of-age in these two innocent young and adventure-hungry boys. Their pure hunger for adventure is what keeps them going and for Ellis especially, his delirium to prove that love exists in this world.
Sheridan, Lofland and McConaughey are the stars of the film and in this very order. Sheridan impresses audiences with his sparkling eyes that reveal the sincerity with which he has played out each scene. The relationship that Ellis and Neckbones share is something to watch out for in the film. It’s the kind that will take you back to your childhood where you had that one friend you could rely on for anything and everything. Neckbones character provides comic relief for the otherwise serious drama; especially his two-finger salute. Mud has beautifully woven two themes; Bilsdungsroman (coming of age) and love. Nichol’s has told a spectacular story albeit one that has pacing issues.