Mud – Film Review

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Before I get all crazy… 

First of all, I would like to apologize for not writing in my film blog since like September. I guess I have been just too busy living life, traveling the world, going to school, and finding new adventures. But now that I am back in the saddle again, I am ready to start writing more in my film blog. I want this blog to show the beauty of cinema. My very first post was how I was going to review the filmography of all of my favorite directors, but no one really sits down and watches every Martin Scorsese movie in a row to review them (As much as I would love to though). I want to be more active in this blog, so sometimes I’ll break down scenes from movies or even review movies in theatres. Maybe I will make videos someday. I want this blog to be a collection of my notes and thoughts. Movies are about watching them with your friends and family, going to the cinema on a Friday night and eating a jumbo-sized bucket of popcorn. Since my last post in September, I have watched over 300 films and have gone off to film school in Los Angeles for a month. I am also working on a short film called “Sunday’s With Paris,” a coming of age story about a college radio host who weighs the pros and cons of adulthood. But yeah, as you can see, I want to work and do something with movies for my career, whether as a director, producer, owning my chain of movie theatre’s or operating at a movie studio or even doing marketing/advertising for films and studios. Hell, being an agent would be cool too, but we all know it isn’t easy like Ari Gold makes it in Entourage. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify all of that with everyone before I get all crazy in this post.

Here we go!

Mud, directed by Jeff Nichols starring Matthew McConaughey opposite Reese Witherspoon is a coming of age story about a young boy named Ellis who slowly learns how hard love can be and what love is. If you take away the hillbillies, the southern accents, the guns, and the manliness in this film, you can see the underlying main message is how love is real. That is the central message of the film, but the main problem is that people choose to reject love because we are afraid or we are looking out what is best for us. But, through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy, we believe that love is real because that is what he believes despite his mom leaving his dad, an older girl leading him on and blowing him off and Mud’s girlfriend always ditching him! I usually hate kids in movies… but this kid was unreal. Tye Sheridan did a great job, and I hope to see him in more films in the future.

Three Quick Notes

1. The cinematography was beautiful. All the shots on the boat and the scenery of the wildlife was extraordinary.
2. The storyline was great. It was like experiencing a modern-day telling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
3. Matthew McConaughey didn’t carry the whole movie! Tye Sheridan made you forget about Mud. Oh, and yeah, Reese Witherspoon plays one hot honky tonky southern girl with a lot of baggage on her.


The storyline of this movie was great. I love seeing two southern boys with southern values, doing southern things. Ellis and Neckbone (how hick are those names) find this abandoned boat on some small little island with plans to keep it. That is until they encounter some fugitive named Mud, who is living in that boat. Well, anyway, Mud tries to befriend these kids but fails. Ellis sees something more in Mud than just some bum. This is because he actually gets to know Mud. He finds out that they both grew up in the same place and he is waiting to see his girlfriend, Juniper. Ellis is so fascinated by their love story of how she saved Mud’s life from being bitten by a cottonmouth when he was ten. Ellis can really relate to Mud because of how Mud’s soul was born on the same river and how they both have girlfriends that they love, despite being screwed over by them countlessly. But the two don’t care, they would do anything for these girls because they genuinely love them. That is the bond between the two characters. Ellis has such an admiration for Mud because he is a true romantic at heart just like Ellis is. He begins to bring Mud food and supplies to live in the woods and soon brings him materials to get the boat out of the tree so he can travel onward. Ellis later finds out that he is a fugitive running from the law and so obviously he and his friend Neckbone are going to ask Mud about it. Mud kills a guy that Juniper went out with a while back. The guy he killed came from a family with a lot of money, and he would beat Juniper all the time. So he explained that sometimes a man has to be punished for doing horrible things and he can’t be forgiven. Ellis sees that he genuinely loves Juniper and that Mud will do anything for her so he tries to help Mud as much as he can so he can escape and be with her. Ellis even acts as a messenger between the two.
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 As the story goes on, we find out that Ellis’ parents are getting divorced and that he won’t be living on a boat in a river anymore, which is basically his whole persona right there. This drives him to further befriend Mud and help him out. Also, he is being led on by this girl whom he goes on one date with and kisses. He starts to call her his girlfriend in the movie, despite her not calling back and always blowing him off in public. This storyline adds to Mud’s story because due to his non-existent failing relationship with his girlfriend, he wants to do anything in his power to set Mud free and reunite him with Juniper. Despite all the crap in his life, Mud’s love for Juniper gives him hope that love truly exists. Later on, the plan is for Ellis to escort Juniper to the island so they can ride off on the boat and live happily ever after. But, she doesn’t show up, and Ellis finds her at a bar flirting with some other guy. This kills Ellis. He is so let down, but Mud doesn’t show any emotion when he finds out. So Ellis sends her a breakup letter from Mud saying that he totally understands and now it’s over. Finding out that they gave up on each other really kills Ellis, especially after everything he and Neckbone did for him.  This is the scene where you can see how hopelessly heartbroken he is because he was lead to believe that there was such a thing as true love by Mud.

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For the win!

This scene critical to the whole entire movie because we, the audience already knows that he has lied about a lot of stuff already. That he has been just using these kids to get free. We think we know that is what is going on. Everyone thinks wow this guy is a dirtbag loser bum hillbilly. Ellis has been the only one who has seen good in him during the entire movie up until this point. For the whole film, Ellis has tried to see the good in him, but now in this scene, the audience and Ellis both know that he is genuinely just a scum bag. This is a scene where the audience and character finally connect with each other, and we both are now on the same page.  Now, what happens next is Ellis runs away and falls into a creek full of cottonmouth snakes and gets bitten. Neckbone tells Mud, and you know what Mud does, he saves Ellis! He risks being caught by the authorities or bounty hunters that are after him by rushing him to the hospital. Wow, Mud was really the guy that Ellis saw. He isn’t a scum. He actually is a good person. We were all wrong about Mud after all! Side note, he kind of reminds me of Boo Radley or Huck Finn or that angry old man across the street in Home Alone. But yes! Mud is a good person, and he does what is truly right in this world, and sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing. There aren’t too many people out there like that. He would rather be in hiding his whole life so Juniper could be safe and free all because he loves her. Ellis saw the good in someone that most people couldn’t see the good in. That is hard for people to do these days because it is hard to find empathy, to walk in someone else’s shoes.

I really enjoyed the overlying theme in the movie that true love does exist, but we always choose to reject it and the fact that as we grow older we some times forget about what the powers of love actually hold. It was really cool watching this story unfold through the eyes of a younger kid as he realizes this. Plus, who wouldn’t want to hang out with Matthew McConaughey?

Remember,

“The Zos Knows”

-David Zosel 

If you want to support my writing and for me to be able to create more content you can make a donation here: Venmo

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