Mud (2012) is a coming of age story starring Matthew McConaughey as a hobo? There was a specific word along the lines of hobo, tramp, or bum that title character Mud did not like to be called, I think it was “bum.” But Mud wasn’t a real bum, he was just camping out in a boat in a tree hiding from the group of people that wanted to kill him because he killed one of them. The plot sounds awfully silly for a coming of age story, but the real plot is driven by a young 14 year old country boy, Ellis(Tye Sheridan), whose trust in Mud is concerning, to the point where his buddy Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) even realizes it.
The movie in lengthy for a coming of age film, whopping in at a total of 130 minutes, but delivers its’ central theme with a balance of grace and unforgiving bluntness. What writer and director Jeff Nichols really wants the audience to come away with, is how toxic and repetitively abusive a dysfunctional relationship can be for a man wrapped up in the entanglements of a woman with loads of baggage and a tendency to date around. He spins this beautiful web of deception making us, and the young boy Ellis, believe that Mud and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) are meant to be with each other because their each others “true loves” and they should be together, gosh darn it! But this is a coming of age movie, not a romance movie, and as Ellis looks up to Mud more and more each day, we slowly begin to see that the relationship is noxious and harmful to Mud. That his life would be so much better if he never fell in love with her when he was Ellis’ age (who happens to fall for an older girl who only give him attention when her friends are gone), and he would have had a better chance at being happy and accomplishing something with his life.
The end of the film is bittersweet. Mud finally realizes that he needs to move on and begin his life anew, but when Ellis is forced to move to town with his mother after his parent’s divorce, he looks longingly at another older girl that lives in the complex; showing that he’s moved on from the last girl, but still longs for something that is unattainable, just like Mud and his multiple decade long affair with a dangerous woman.
Does Mud need to be watched by everyone? No, maybe just the men out there who think they can never be single. Does the film deserve to be on the top 100 critically praised list? Not really, but it would be your choice to watch the film after this review, now wouldn’t it?