His Name is Mud – A review of Mud

Matthew McConaughey stars as Mud, a man on the run from the law after he kills a man for mistreating a woman with whom he's in love.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Mud, a man on the run from the law after he kills a man for mistreating a woman with whom he's in love.
4 stars for Mud

Summary: This film offers little hope or belief in the pairing of the sexes. Every glimmer of happiness between men and women is swiftly shattered yet one child still is left with hope that he may one day find love.

Call me optimistic but I still believe in fairy tale endings despite not having found my own yet. Maybe that’s why I enjoy romantic comedies that have happy endings.

The movie Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey as a drifter marooned on a deserted river island is not a comedy and it rarely hints at romance. Maybe that’s why, despite the approach to its subject matter, I was bemused, rather than amused.

The film’s real star, though, is Tye Sheridan who plays a young boy named Ellis. He’s fourteen and still believes that men and women belong together even though his parents are splitting up and everything around him indicates the truth is opposite his beliefs.

Ellis’ best friend is Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), a boy raised by his uncle, a man who objectifies women for little more than one night stands. It’s this upbringing that has turned Neckbone into a misogynist. He’d rather spend an afternoon flipping through old girlie magazines than exploring a boat stuck in a tree after a flood.

Enter Mud. Mud, too, is a romantic, believing that a woman he loves is coming back for him. He’s hiding out on the island because he killed a man who mistreated her.

The woman, Jubilee (Reese Witherspoon), has an agenda of her own, though. Where Mud fits into her life is not made very clear until the end.

Let me make something abundantly clear, though. I’m definitely a cynic when it comes to happy endings in real life. Maybe that’s why I still enjoyed this film. While I prefer to think optimistically about love, like Ellis, I can also be a realist when it comes to believing that two people can end up happy. Or rather, can not.

The film is surprising well layered like the best of the coming of age movies we’ve seen in the past. The Midwest setting is apropos. Mud is hunted by the family of the man he killed and there’s no better place for a showdown than a community hit hard by recession.

The movie also features Sam Shepard as an ex-military type who keeps to himself on the riverfront. And Joe Don Baker shows up as the father of the murdered man who wants holy revenge against Mud and is willing to bribe the law to make things right.

This isn’t a feel good movie by any means, but after viewing it, it may give you a feel good vibe about the human condition. Despite its cynicism, the film will leave you with the optimism that happy endings are possible if you believe in them. I give Mud 4 out of 5 stars.

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