Mud is such a brilliant name. Not only does it completely sensually encapsulate the titular character, it feels like those rivers, the muddy banks of Arkansas. As a film, Mud is complicated. I found it difficult to love but difficult to hate. It follows a boy, Ellis, who lives on the Mississippi river with parents whose marriage is breaking down. He and his best friend, Neckbone, spend most days on their boat, patrolling the marshes to pass the time. They meet Mud, a local man living alone on an island, supposedly waiting on the love of his life.
The whole thing made me feel guilty for relying on technology so much – I guess it’s a culture-clash thing. Living on the outskirts of London is worlds away from upstream Arkansas. The boys spend so much time outdoors, just living, doing whatever comes to mind and running with it. Planning is overrated. Sometimes, I can get so caught up in where I am, complaining or sulking, completely oblivious in the moment to the fact that all around the world, near-alien lives are being led (and by alien I mean completely alien to me). Some people, like Mud, are living alone, isolated from the rest of the planet. Others, like Ellis, live on the river, travelling around by boat and growing up on and in the water. It makes you wonder which is better: the city or the country? Or if there even is a ‘better’? I know, it is completely different for everyone, and I’ve always opted for the city. But now, I’m not so sure. I guess I’m just at that point in life where I’m confused, and films, films like Mud, help me to question things and learn about new places, people, ideas… I just want to try it all! But, I digress.
Arkansas is stunning. For a state I didn’t even know how to pronounce until a few months ago, it has really opened my eyes to Southern America. Just those simple visuals have wet my travel taste buds. Amongst buildings and concrete, I now crave for rivers and wood.
I love the relationship between Mud and the two boys. Despite the obvious age difference (sorry McConaughey, but you can’t look that young), they get along in this friendly way, without stepping into father-son territory. Its all down to the simple laws of kindness and respect; the boys help him out, they get something in return. Everything felt so natural, so unforced. The casting is, without a doubt, the film’s biggest asset.
Some of the scenes did feel a bit long and, shoot me, at times yawn-inducing, but you know what, no film is perfect. For the most part, the writing was excellent, and if you watch the behind the scenes, its pretty clear writer/director Jeff Nichols “4 years of film school” seriously payed off.