Some of this story is hard to believe, but that's not important. This is the kind of character-driven plot I would like to see Hollywood make more of. The moral of the story is: you learn some harsh lessons about life from revenge-driven relatives and inconsiderate teenage girls. Its a sad but true parallel situation.
This film defies Hollywood conventions because the name actor, Matthew McConaughey isn't the main character. Really this film is about the young boy, and his main conflict is about whether or not he can believe in love, which is remarkably compelling and subtly rendered.
The performance by young Tye Sheridan is good, not great; he's able to convey the character with some maturity, but the je ne sais quoi that it takes to carry a film is absent at this early stage of his career.
Overall, I've heard people bemoan this film as slow, but I think analyzing its structure makes it more interesting than it might seem at first blush.
For anyone who has seen Jeff Nichols previous two movies, Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter; Mud should not be a surprise. This again has that same style. It's realistic, regional, and very well written and acted. Even with how good Mud is, and it's very, very good, I still think I liked his previous two more. Still this is a hell of a film.
Two boys, Ellis and Neckbone, who live on a river in Arkansas go looking for a boat that has been lodged in a tree on an island. When they find it, they also find a man; Mud. They slowly start helping Mud, bringing food, as he waits for a girl to show up. Mud tells them stories of love and life on the river, but also of the predicament he finds himself in. He shot a man, not for the wrong reasons, and now that mans family are after him.
This movie is about love and loss, and that's shown through countless windows. Ellis is going through his first experience with love, right as he is trying to help Mud get reacquainted with his love, and while his parents are going through a separation.
All in all, Mud is a fantastic film. If you liked Nichols previous films, this is a can't miss. If you haven't seen any of Nichol's films, you really should see all three. There's no doubt in my mind that Jeff Nichol's is easily one of the best filmmakers going right now.
Good Film! This movie is beautifully filmed, lovely rich colours. The river is filmed lovingly, so too the way of life. The film is a homage to the life and the river. However while we see beautiful scenes of the river, we see too the grittier scenes of urban decay and dereliction and waste. All filmed well. Friendship, family, life and death, love and violence are all explored. The adult themes are not hidden. The boys have to try figure out the truth and act accordingly. The film is very much seen through their eyes. However we do see a little bit more than the boys see. What is the truth? What to do? The truth is not very clear, clear as mud, perhaps. No real judgement is made about the truth, or the characters, or their decisions. Their lives are too rich and complex for that sort of simplistic verdict.
PLOT : 14 year-old Ellis (Tye Sheridan) lives on a makeshift houseboat on the banks of a river in Arkansas with his parents, Mary Lee (Sarah Paulson) and Senior (Ray McKinnon). He sneaks out early one morning to meet his best friend, Neckbone (Jacob Lofland). Neckbone, also 14, lives with his uncle, Galen (Michael Shannon), who makes a hardscrabble living diving for oysters. The two boys set out to an island on the Mississippi River, where Neckbone has discovered an unusual sight-a boat, suspended high in the trees, a remnant of an extreme flood some time in the past. They climb the tree and into the boat only to find fresh bread and fresh footprints. Realizing that they are not the only ones who have discovered the treehouse boat, they decide to leave. When they reach the shore, they find the same footprint in their boat. And that's when they meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey). Mud is a gritty, superstitious character; his clothes are dirty, his tooth is cracked, and he needs help. He tells the boys he will give them the treehouse boat, his current hideout, in exchange for food. Neckbone is reluctant, but Ellis brings food to Mud, and they develop a tentative friendship. Ellis learns that Mud has killed a man in Texas, and police and bounty hunters are looking for him, but Mud is more concerned about reuniting with his longtime love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Ellis, who has recently developed his own crush, agrees to help Mud escape with Juniper. Ellis and Neckbone carry out bold schemes in an effort to protect Mud and relay messages to Juniper, who is holed up in a fleabag motel, under constant surveillance by Carver (Paul Sparks), a Texas bounty hunter. Carver and his gang are intent on capturing Mud, on orders from the cold-blooded King (Joe Don Baker). As the boys risk everything to reunite these seeming mythical lovers, Ellis's own ideas about love and romance are challenged by the strains in the relationships closest to him: his parents' marriage is dissolving while he himself falters in his efforts to impress May Pearl (Bonnie Sturdivant). Through it all, Ellis struggles to look for an example of love that he can believe in, learning about the unspoken rules and risks of love and the reality of heartbreak.
'Mud' joins the great Southern canon that teaches that no matter how much trouble boys get into, they can be forgiven if people think they're dying.
Set in a small southeastern Arkansas town along the Mississippi River, this is a coming-of-age tale of young teenager Ellis and his buddy Neckbone.
One day Ellis and Neckbone come across a mysterious drifter named Mud who is hiding out on an island in the middle of the Mississippi.
Initially unsure of what to make of him, the boys eventually befriend Mud, and decide to help him out of a sticky situation. Turns out Mud is a wanted fugitive on the run. He's trying to reunite with his childhood love Juniper and evade the vengeful family of a man he killed. Mud killed a guy who impregnated Juniper, then abused her, causing her to lose the baby. Along the way, the boys learn valuable life lessons, both heartfelt, and heartbreaking.
I enjoyed this. And, having spent time in Arkansas (and living most of my life in one of its neighboring states), I can verify that this is a realistic and accurate portrait of life in that particular state. This is a compelling and beautiful drama that also feels rather poetic and lyrical at times.
I do think that the film is far stronger in the first half, and not as interesting when it gets into thriller territory during the second portion, but think that overall it is still a worthwhile film. And having a shootout at least delivers some excitement to help push the lengthy proceedings along, even if, as I said, the coming-of-age stuff is better.
Matthew McConaughey is typically strong and charming as Mud, Reese Withersppon is solidly world-weary as Juniper, and there's also appearances from Joe Don Baker, Sam Shepard, and Michael Shannon who are terrific supporters, but the real treats here are young newcomers Tye Sheridan as Ellis and Jacob Lofland as Neckbone. Child actors are generally hit and miss, but these two are great. They radiate naturalism, and are perfectly cast in their parts, giving some rich and realistic performances.
All in all, this is a quite strong film. It gets a bit bogged down as it goes on, but ultimately adds up to a fine, gorgeous, and compelling slice of Americana.
Extremely slow paced, I hate to admit I fell asleep at one point (this was extreme fatigue and not that the movie was that bad!).
At first I found it dull, but it does grow on you as it goes along and I enjoyed the small town setting and the other little plots such as the teen boy's girlfriend and the break up of his parents. It's an extremely well made movie once you go along with it. Definitely not a feel good and won't be for everyone. I'm surprised that my opinion changed so drastically by the middle. I was really ready to switch this off after ten minutes, but I wanted to wait and see Reese, and she took so long to appear the darn thing grew on me.
These last couple years Mathew McConaughey has been on a hellava roll with his roles. He seems to be getting better and better, and "Mud" follows that trend. This is a kind of hybrid of coming of age/adventure/love story. It's about 2 boys, Ellis(Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone(Jacob Lofland) who find a boat in a tree on an island. They think it's abandoned, but soon find out a man named Mud(McConaughey) is living there. Mud is on the hideout from bounty hunters who are after him after a he murdered a man in Texas. He's there awaiting his love Juniper(Reese Witherspoon) to join him so they can escape together. From there the boys help him out while dealing with family problems, girls, and the bounty hunters looking for Mud. McConaughey is fantastic, but the 2 boys really shine. Especially Ellis, he has one scene were if he had cried, I probably would have two. You get really invested with him. Witherspoon does good, but I felt she was the weakest part of the movie. She needed to be in it more, and felt like it didn't tell enough about her. I read somewhere that this reminded people of "Stand by Me", and I can kind of see that. It has the same boys in the woods on an adventure type vibe to it. But it's a more complicated story, that leaves some things unresolved. It's a little over 2 hours long and when I watch a movie late at night like I did this(I started at 10 p.m) I usually pass out. But I was riveted the entire time(ended up staying up way too late on a work night). It does drag in a few spots, but overall it's a fantastic story that is very well told. Jeff Nichols("Take Shelter") has made another great film that really makes me curious as to what he is going to make next. If you want a neat little movie that will entertain you for a couple hours and isn't as predictable as you would think, then definitely check this out. Not very many movies made like this anymore