{2jtab: Movie Review}

Mud - Movie Review


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5 stars

Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ love of Mark Twain shines brightly through every frame of his latest film called mud, the story of a young boy’s coming of age in Southeastern Arkansas’ sultry delta region. While the film’s river setting, its teenage protagonists, and strong sense of place harken back to the adventures of young Huck and Tom, a flourish of Sam Peckinpah, and a whole lot of Nichols’ emerging - but already unique - style combine to ensure Mud’s place in American Southern Gothic mythology.

As the film opens, we meet 14-year-old Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) as they slip into a rickety flat-bottom boat and point it towards an overgrown sandbar. As the kids begin exploring an abandoned boat lodged high up in a tree - the flotsam from recent floods - they run into Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a snaggle-toothed, charismatic drifter on the run from the law. In Mud, Ellis finds a kindred spirit who, despite his age, is still very youthful in his romantic beliefs. With his parents about to split up, Ellis just wants guidance, love and acceptance. He needs an identity, and finds it in Mud.

Though Mud becomes somewhat of a father figure to the boys, his interests are of a bit more selfish nature. He’s come to the area to reclaim the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) and is simply using Ellis and Neckbone to help patch up the broken-down boat with hopes of eventually sailing away with Juniper. The boys bring him cans of Beanee Weenees, other provisions, and even pilfered engine parts. But it’s not too long before Juniper shows up on the mainland, unknowingly dragging a posse of bounty hunters in tow.

Nichols’ story is a good one, filled with a depth and complexity of characters that so many screenwriters struggle to bring to life. Save for a brief shootout in the third act that feels somewhat out of place, there’s not a lot of movement or action. The delight comes from Nichols’ palpable tone enhanced by a brilliant cast that features many first-timers including the young Lofland.

Nichols’ filmmaking style is clearly influenced by such greats as Ritt, Rossen, and Rosenberg, but Mud is all Nichols. We feel the oppressive heat, smell the fishy stench, and the sounds of broken hearts pierce David Wingo’s aching score. Visual cues, whether authentic fishing gear or appropriate books on background shelves, paint the proceedings with an authenticity that breathes life into the southern atmosphere, making the location a memorable character in itself.

When all is said and done, we’re left hard-pressed to find much fault with Mud. And considering this is but Nichols’ third effort (after Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter), that’s a major accomplishment for such a young filmmaker. If there are any nits to pick, they might come from the film’s length which exceeds two hours, but never feels long or bloated. In fact, we’re honored to just be along for the lazy ride and enjoy experiencing a boy’s first love as viewed through the prism of small-town (Southern) America.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Mud - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sexual references, language, thematic elements and smoking.
Runtime: 130 mins.
Director: Jeff Nichols
: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Matthew McConoughey; Reese Witherspoon; Tye Sheridan; Jacob Lofland; Ray McKinnon; Sam Shepard
Genre: Drama
Memorable Movie Quote: "There are things you can get away with in this world, and there are things you can't."
Roadside Attractions
Official Site:
Release Date: April 26, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.

Synopsis: Mud is a coming-of-age drama centered around two fourteen-year-old boys who encounter a mysterious fugitive hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Intrigued by this man, they enter into a pact to help him evade capture and reconnect with the love of his life. Though it is hard for the boys to discern truth from fiction when it comes to Mud, it isn't long until their small Arkansas town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of hunters in tow.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Mud - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

3 stars

Blu-ray Experience


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 6, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; Digital copy (as download)
Region Encoding: A

Jeff Nichols’ authentic southern fried melodrama is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and framed in its theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  There’s grittiness throughout and great locations.  Sharpness is very good throughout with lots of detail present, and color is rich and consistently presented with accurate flesh tones.  Black levels at their best are quite good but occasionally are a bit lighter than at other times.  Everything, sound-wise, is wrapped up in the center channel.  As a result, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix doesn’t quite make the most of its surround opportunities.



  • While there are often too many pauses, writer-director Jeff Nichols’ commentary covers the conception, planning, and shooting of the film from ideas he’d been forming for a long time.  It’s a good listen for fans of the film but not necessary; not by a longshot.

Special Features:

The supplemental material Lionsgate loads on this disc feels like a love letter to the bayou.  There is a lot of material covering the location of the film.  One of the featurettes, “Southern Authenticity” praises this part of the world, its people and an industry and lifestyle that the filmmaker contends is disappearing.  Other supplements include a by-the-numbers look at the cast, and “A Very Personal Tale: Writing and Directing Mud,” which reveals Nichols’ own Southern roots.

  • A Personal Tale (12 min)
  • The Arkansas Ensemble (8 min)
  • Southern Authenticity (6 min)
  • The Snake Pit (2 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}