Mud (2012) Review
Jeff Nichols' Mud is a modern day fairy tale. Keeping the essence of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, he wove a coming-of-age story so gratifying that it will leave a smile on your face when the credits roll. A wonderful piece of character study that we do not see very often.
Set in the background of Mississippi banks and the city De Witt, Arkansas, we see two teenage boys(Ellis and Neckbone), adventurously, as boys of that age often do, set out for an island in the middle of Mississippi river; with the aim of taking ownership of a boat that one the two boys had previously found out. Upon arrival, they found that the boat, as they had hoped, is not completely unoccupied. A man, who called himself 'Mud', had taken shelter in that boat. With turn of events, the boys befriended Mud.
As it would turn out later, Mud was a fugitive on the run. This is where the film treads in the water of 'love'. Here we see variants of love from the eyes of our protagonist, Ellis. His own, his parents' and Mud's. Driven by the force, Ellis decided to help Mud in his goal and went out of his way to do so. Ellis is probably one of the cleanest characters you'd come across in the cinematic world.
Underneath the surface of love, there is a strong undercurrent of raw masculinity. A masculine trust that brews by the heat of the relationship between the boys and Mud. Maybe to reflect this, Nichols decided to have the women and girls in the film quite shallow in nature. There is a moment where Juniper, the woman of Mud's life, threw the question whether Mud would really do anything for love; and subsequently we see him risking his life twice; for Ellis. There lies the brilliance of the film and Jeff Nichols. Maybe, the particular colour of love that we wanted to see through Ellis' eyes wasn't there. But, there was love. In a different colour.
Speaking of brilliance, the cast, especially the leads, produces standout performances in their own rights. Tye Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey were exceptional in their performances, together and separately. This especially stands out in the aforementioned scene. Sheridan, especially, was brilliant in the scene of confronting Mud, etching the multitude of emotions the character was going through. Jacob Lofland as Neckbone was a faithful sidekick like his character. The support cast, including the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Ray McKinnon and Michael Shannon did their parts well.
This was a story to be shot beautifully and beautifully it was shot, thanks to Adam Stone. The river and life on its banks were beautiful. Similar effort was found from David Wingo in the background score department.
All in all, this is a film that is ought to be seen. For the sake of masculine love it portrays.
P.S. Anti-venoms can be taken more than one time without it being fatal. Just saying.