‘Mud’ is the best movie of 2013, and the final four months of film releases will be hard-pressed to top it.
The Southern drama tells the story of an adolescent boy named Ellis whose idealistic view of love is pure and not yet contaminated by the muddy waters of adult life.
When Ellis and his best friend Neckbone encounter a mysterious stranger hiding on a river island, their adventure into adulthood begins.
The stranger is Mud, a fugitive who returns to his hometown to meet his childhood sweetheart Juniper so they can run away together. The boys decide to help the charismatic Mud gather supplies for the journey ahead and reunite him with his true love.
Ellis is deeply affected by Mud’s declaration of love for Juniper and is willing to do anything to see their plan succeed against all odds.
However, life starts to reveal the reality of love to Ellis.
He sees cracks forming in his parents’ marriage, in the relationship with his new girlfriend, and in Mud and Juniper's fairy-tale romance. Cracks that love can't repair.
The natural way that writer-director Jeff Nichols discloses Mud's past life while Ellis learns love's difficult lessons is masterful.
In one of the strongest performances of his career, Matthew McConaughey portrays Mud as an idealistic outsider who still believes in meant-to-be’s and magic. He's a man running from his past by running to his past. Maybe he’s what Ellis will become if the boy stays starry-eyed about love.
Reese Witherspoon portrays Juniper as a pretty woman with tired looks who frequents bars to numb the pain in her heart. Her relationships always end badly, maybe because she loves Mud so much that she can’t be happy with anyone else. Or maybe it's just life.
Tye Sheridan is a revelation as Ellis, a boy who wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn’t have a clue he can wipe it off anytime.
The entire cast of 'Mud' is strong, and the dialogue is equally powerful.
'This river brings a lot of trash down it,' says Neckbone's uncle. 'You gotta know what's worth keeping and what's worth letting go.'
‘Mud’ is packed with beautiful details and meaningful symbolism permeated by a Southern dose of magic realism that infuses the story with an almost epic sensibility.
‘Mud’ is sentimental but not sappy. It's poetry in Mark Twain motion down a nostalgic Mississippi River.
'Mud' is the rare movie that deals with matters of the heart like they actually matter.
It may even take you back to the moment when you realized that love isn’t always enough.
That’s the power of ‘Mud.’ You witness that moment in Ellis’ life.
And even though you realize love isn’t always enough, there are times in your life when you still believe it can be.