Mud is the sweet, sad coming-of-age story of two young boys in Arkansas, who one day discover a boat stranded up on a tree on a deserted island in the middle of the Mississippi river. The boat is inhabited by a charismatic stranger named Mud, played by Matthew McConaughey. Mud tells them stories about why he is a man on the run. The boys become his aides. Men with guns arrive and eventually, tears flow.
Above all, Mud is a meditation on love. The way in which relationships between men and women curdle; how life has a way of disappointing people; and why, ultimately, love isn’t enough. Director Jeff Nichols tells the story with a quiet precision. The performances, especially Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan and McConaughey, are wonderful. And the camerawork by Adam Stone allows us to see the unexpected magic in the tattered lives that these characters lead.
Toward the end, Mud becomes a little pat and sentimental. But I think the characters and viewers earn themselves that last smile. I’m going with four stars. In places, the accent is tough to follow and the pace is slow. But have patience. This one is a beauty.