by Brad Nelson 5/29/14
After watching Matthew in the mediocre and overwrought Dallas Buyers Club, I had to cleanse my palate from the aftertaste of that movie, especially the persona donned by McConaughey. This movie helped to do that.
Mud features McConaughey (as Mud) as a somewhat mysterious drifter. I say “somewhat” because there isn’t all that much mystery to him. But the fun is in watching what story that there is unfold. This is a movie suitable for nearly all ages. The profanity is at a minimum, as are the adult situations (other than a little gunplay).
My main criticism of this movie is that McConaughey’s character could have been more complex, or perhaps it was that his acting was a little simple. But much of the emphasis is on two young kids, Ellis and Neckbone, who stumble upon Mud living on an island in or near a river in Arkansas. This is real backwoods, small-town stuff. The setting of the movie is evocative of the rustic and rundown look of Of Mice and Men. The backdrop is a personality unto itself.
This movie is also filled with some wonderful cinematography. So what’s it about? Well, it’s not one for the ADHD sugar-rush crowd. Nor is it one for the cinematic dolts who require their characters to be all larger-than-life — one dumb-ass hipster-doofus after another. All of the characters in the movie come across as real people with the acting fairly superb throughout.
This is a film to sit down to with a box of popcorn and just let it unfold. There are good guys and bad guys, mysterious guys, hermits, dusty small towns, rundown makeshift houseboats, and perhaps most of all “the bad women that good men often fall for.” One reviewer at IMDB.com speculated that this movie avoided most of the awards given out these days because the men weren’t portrayed as the bad guys (generally speaking) and the women as victims.
But these relationships all turn out to be fairly complex and sometimes at least partially redeemed. McConaughey’s interaction with the kids (who seem to know little or no fear and are always geared for a Tom Sawyer-like adventure) is the real draw of the movie. Although I would have preferred more depth and more real mystery to his character, McConaughey certainly does fill Mud with a likable charm buttressed by a lingering danger. You’re never quite sure if he can be trusted.
This movie made it pleasant to just sit back and watch it unfold. It is infested with poisonous snakes but thankfully with very few clichés. If you need that sugar rush, if you need to immerse yourself in goofball, this film isn’t for you. But if you like movies with interesting characters, realistic situations, and plots that are not gadgety, then you may indeed like Mud. This is available for streaming on Netflix.
Brad is editor and publisher of StubbornThings.
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