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Mud is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios-he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn't long until Mud's visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.
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Jealousy, betrayal, separation, revenge and violence are prominent themes in "Mud". They issue from the main theme, the difficulty in human relationships, particularly the relationship between man and woman, husband and wife, which often starts off so promisingly and hopeful.
Snakes are also a theme in "Mud", particularly the Cottonmouth, a poisonous water moccasin. Early in the movie Ellis says, "I hate snakes." To which Mud replies, "That's because God put um here for us to fear." Later in the movie as Ellis' parents argue while their marriage disintegrates into separation and probable divorce, Ellis' father Senior (Ray McKinnon) accuses his wife and Ellis' mother Mary Lee (Sarah Paulson), of raising Ellis to be "a snake just like herself."
In Genesis 3:12 after Adam and Eve fell for the temptation of the Serpent, the Snake, we see the first division in human relationships between the man and his wife: "The woman whom you put here with me - she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it." This will eventually lead to murderous violence as Cain kills his brother Abel.
When Ellis and Neckbone first learn that someone else is on the small island where they are hiding a boat, they see a footprint in which it looks like a cross is in the heel of a boot. But Mud eventually tells the boys that he has "nails shaped like crosses" in his boots.
Jesus nailed to a Cross has obtained the Grace to heal human beings and repair their sometimes stormy, and even violent relationships.
I thought "Mud" was excellent with an exciting climax. How refreshing it is to see an unabashedly Southern story in which the Southerners aren't being portrayed as stupid yokels. Mark Twain, whom "Mud" writer and director Jeff Nichols mentions in an extra after the movie, knew good stories could be set in the South. Would that more modern creative people would learn that the South isn't just part of "flyover country". Reese Witherspoon, a Tennessee native, touches on this also in an extra, saying, "There aren't a lot of Southern film makers."
Texan Matthew McConaughey as Mud is excellent as always. He's now on the A-List, if he wasn't already, after his Best Actor Oscar win for "Dallas Buyers Club". But he remains an interesting character actor.
The mom is divorcing the dad and is willing to split up the family because she needs something different. Being very jaded, he continually goes into a diatribe about not being able to trust women
Mud ends up killing a man who was mistreating Juniper, who doesn't even show up at her rendezvous point because she is too busy flirting with another man.
All 3 of the women's characters are all cast in a negative light.
At the same time there is emphasis of brotherhood in this movie. Tom finally comes around when he is most needed, helping Mud at the end.
Ellis and his friend, the movie also revolves around their friendship along with Mud's friendship with boys.
Men are dumb when it comes to women, women can be mischievous, and for men to value your friendships with your guy friends more so than women. They are likely to be on a more solid footing, perhaps and even more fulfilling emotionally. I'm hoping this is not me reading something into the movie that is not there. I have had some bad relationships in my time, but I have some fulfilling ones and I've known both men and women to not be truthful. Just an interesting insight.