Mud ****

 

mud

 

Run Time: 131 mins Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: While exploring an island in rural Mississippi, two teenage boys meet a mysterious man named Mud and help him reunite with his girlfriend.

 

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, “Mud” begins when teenage boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) discover a boat in a tree while visiting a small island near their home in Mississippi. On investigation they realise someone is living there and subsequently meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey). Mud tells them he is there to reunite with his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) so they can leave together. Feeling sorry for him, the boys decide to help Mud in exchange for a gun he promises them.

 

The story is deep and well written but seems to lose it’s way as it progresses. Although there are elements of action and suspense, it is more of a character driven drama than a thriller and is largely built on relationships rather than events. Towards the end there are a few twists but the ending is disappointing. On leaving the cinema, the audience are likely to wonder why the last few minutes were included as the writer had a perfect opportunity to end the movie on an ambiguous note but chose not to do it.

 

From the outset it is obvious there are different sides to Mud (McConaughey) and the viewer learns more about him throughout the film. His relationship with Juniper (Witherspoon) is central to the story but they only have one scene together. Witherspoon is very average in her role as Juniper. Her character is a woman that does what she wants regardless of the consequences for other people. This makes for an interesting love story which sees Mud risk everything for the woman he loves despite it being clear to the viewer that she only loves herself. Mud’s relationship with retired marine Tom (Sam Shepherd) is also interesting to watch. They have a father-son dynamic that is a recurrent theme throughout the movie.

 

Tye Sheridan gives a realistic portrayal of a teenager dealing with realities such as rejection and family breakdown. Throughout the movie, the viewer sees Ellis interact with a variety of people including his parents, best friend Neckbone, high school girl May Pearl and most importantly Mud. The relationships he forms with those around him are enjoyable to watch and give the character plenty of depth. Despite having a less significant role, Jacob Lofland also gives a good performance as Neckbone, a boy who has grown up without his parents and spends most of his time fishing with his uncle and exploring with Ellis.

 

Overall, “Mud” is an enjoyable film with a solid plot and well developed characters. Although at 131 mins it is a bit longer than necessary, the movie remains interesting and is worth watching.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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