Mud – Review (Spoiler Free)

Mud PosterHuckleberry Finn meets Matthew McConaughey along the shores of the Mississippi river.


Mud begins with two children heading off to find a boat which, rumour has it, has been stranded on a small island just a short way away from where they live. Once there though they find a rough and potentially dangerous Matthew McConaughey. And so begins a tale about, well many things, including children coming of age, love, violence, friendship, and man’s ability to bring about his own self-destruction. There’s a lot of different elements to this movie which at times feels like a crime drama and at others Stand By Me, but Nichols directs confidently and always keeps the focus on Mud‘s characters.

What’s best here is the film’s actors, everybody does a good to great job with McConaughey and child actor Tye Sheriden being the stand outs. One of the key films in bringing about McConaughey’s radical reinvention from cheesy rom-com star to now Oscar winner, he here adds a surprising level of intrigue and depth which does wonders for the film. His multifaceted character is as charming as he is enigmatic, and may well be the highlight of the film. Sheriden however seriously challenges McConaughey for the role of best actor here. He impresses as a child actor, but more importantly he impresses simply as an actor regardless of his age. He brings so much heart to a role which demands a lot from him and which he seemingly effortlessly transcends.

MUD

Unfortunately the film suffers most when it occasionally slips into formulaic writing which, whilst it doesn’t happen often, is pretty disappointing every time that it does happen. There’s nothing here which is film-breaking, but the slight lack of bravery does bring the film down a notch or two. Still, despite any flaws this film is one you really should see if you haven’t already.  It’s a great example of what happens when you give a bunch of talented people great material to work with and an intelligent director to oversee them all.  Mud is a film which, whilst best appreciated by adults, can be seen by just about anybody.

Summary:

What is the film’s greatest strength? It’s a tough call but I’ll go with Sheriden’s performance.

Its greatest weakness? The occasional slips into formulaic writing. 

Would I see it again? Yes it deserves to be seen again at some point.

Drum up your thoughts in the comment box below!

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14 comments

  1. Nice review. : ) I felt pretty similar about this one and agree those two performances were the best thing about the movie. I thought Reese Witherspoon was the weakest thing, unfortunately. Love the times it felt a bit like Stand By Me. : )

    1. Thanks! Yeah I agree about Witherspoon actually, she is the weakest of the cast for sure.

  2. Nice to see Sheriden get some credit. The ending’s a bit formulaic but Mud’s a pretty strong movie overall. Solid review.

    1. Cheers man, I strongly considered putting McConaughey as the film’s strongest point but Sheridan just nips him to the post for me. Both are great here though.

  3. It might be a little formulaic, but Mud has found its way into my top 10 films of all time, that’s how much I love this film! Sheridan and McConaughey are unstoppable! Everything about it is impeccable. Superb post, my friend!

    1. Oh wow that is high praise indeed! I can see why you picked it though, even whilst I wouldn’t place it that high personally. Those two are incredible! Did you like Witherspoon here?

  4. Shows what can happen when you get a great cast, and give them material worthy of their talents. Especially for McConaughey, who does everything in his prowess to make this character work and not at all seem hacky. Good review Rumsey.

    1. Cheers, yeah that was what surprised me most, just how unhacky McConaughey’s character was. This was my introduction to him since he turned his career around and hell did he impress me!

  5. Abbi · · Reply

    Great review. I liked but didn’t love Mud

    1. Cheers Abbi! I know where you’re coming from. I didn’t fall head over heels for it, but it’s pretty decent for sure!

  6. I wasn’t crazy about this but it was very good! Loved Matthew and Tye’s performances.

    1. Yeah I think we are in similar territory here then. I didn’t love it, but they are very good as you say and the writing is (mostly) solid.

  7. Great review man, I really was surprised by this little gem. McConaughey was great, the first I saw in a slew of fantastic performances.

    1. Cheers Tom, same here! I knew he had turned his career around because everybody was talking about him, but this was my introduction as well!

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