Mud is a slow burning thriller/drama that is based on two young fourteen year old boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan, Tree Of Life), and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland, Justified).
Ellis has emotionally and physically hardened over his life time because life along the Arkansas River is not easy. He is also struggling with his parent’s potential divorce and that he may have to go live in town with his mother, Mary Lee (Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story) and leave his father, Senior (Ray McKinnon, Rectify) and their riverboat home behind.
Neckbone has had a very difficult life also. He is being raised by his Uncle Galen (Michael Shannon, Shotgun Stories), who makes a living laboring on the river, oyster diving. Galen depends on Neckbone to help him dive for oysters because it requires two people to deeply dive into the waters and successfully find oysters. Galen has just developed a new diving mask that he wants to test, but unfortunately Neckbone has other plans.
Ellis and Neckbone have decided to take a boat ride along the river to an island nearby. They discover a really cool boat that mysteriously landed in a tree. They have taken claim of the boat, until they are suddenly introduced to the eccentric Mud (Matthew McConaughey, True Detective). Although they do not trust Mud in the beginning, they form some strange kind of relationship with him, over time.
Ellis discovers that Mud is a murderer and is wanted by the local officials, but this only encourages him to be more determined to help him more. Ellis and Neckbone go on a search for Mud’s girlfriend, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon, Walk The Line). They find her, but not how they imagined, and begin to tell her about Mud. She agrees to go with them later, but she just is not prepared for such a move at that moment.
Ellis and Neckbone return to the island to relay the message to Mud, along with some boat parts that they stole from a local junkyard. Mud continues to work on the boat in an attempt to restore it. No one is prepared for what is about to happen next.
King (Joe Don Baker) and Carver (Paul Sparks), the family of the murdered victim, is out to find Mud and kill anyone that gets in their way.
Mud must make a quick decision to save Ellis’s life and take the risk of getting captured by the police or RUN. What do you think he will do? Will he repay Ellis and Neckbone for everything that they have done for him or will he prove to be a hooligan, just like everyone perceives him to be?
Mud is a wonderful little low budget film that holds a lot of meaning. The writers and directors have done an excellent job with the river scenes, sunsets, and the screenplay. Matthew McConaughey is one of my favorite American actors, when he plays a particular character, he becomes that character, heart and sole. Even though Michael Shannon’s role is short, he performs superbly in all his roles.
I enjoy all of Jeff Nichols’s movies including; Shotgun Stories, Mud, and Take shelter.
If you are looking for a movie to remind you of your own childhood, that is if you grew up in the 80’s, this is definitely a must see. It is like Ellis seen through the rumors of Mud being a heartless killer, to who he really was. He ignored all the warning signs to stay away from Mud, but he refuses to turn his back on his new friend. This film deserves an 8.5 out of 10.