Another movie with a shirtless Matthew McConaughey? Well yes and no. McConaughey plays a character named Mud and does have a small scene in which he is indeed shirtless (I don't know if it's in his contract to appear shirtless in all his films just like I don't know if it's in Anne Hathaway's contract to show her breasts whenever she stars alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, but I digress); however the movie is about much, much more. It is a young boy's journey learning about life, love and trust. The main character is 14-year old Ellis (Tye Sheridan), a romantic at heart who believes in a love that is pure. That is until he learns that his parents are separating and that his "girlfriend" has been untrue.
Ellis and his best friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) hear about a boat in a tree on an island down river from their home in Dewitt, Arkansas. The boys take Ellis's boat to the island to lay claim on the treasure in the tree. They find proof that someone is living on the boat. That someone turns out to be 30-something Mud (McConaughey). Mud and the boys hail from the same neck of the woods and even share a common acquaintance—a recluse called Tom Blankenship (Sam Shepard).
As the unlikely relationship develops between the boys and Mud, we learn that Mud is waiting for his girlfriend, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), who Mud has known since she saved him from a Copperhead snake bite when he was 10. Mud tells the boys how Juniper is the most beautiful woman on Earth, that he loves her and she him. This prompts Ellis to help Mud reunite with his true love.
One afternoon while Ellis is searching for a reason to speak to the 17-year-old girl he loves named May Pearl (Bonnie Sturdivant), he sees a boy groping her. Ellis runs across the street and coldcocks the boy, a senior at May Pearl’s high school. May Pearl is impressed by Ellis’s chivalry and tells him to give her a call if he can find her number. At the same time, Neckbone spots a blonde woman that fits Juniper’s description. The boys follow to confirm that it’s her and deliver a letter from Mud. She seems happy but has a noticeable ambivalence as well. Ellis is elated that he is bringing the two soul mates together, especially after learning his own parents are separating.
When the boys visit Mud again, they report what happened with Juniper and that he is a wanted man. Mud tells them why he is wanted. He then devises a plan to use the boat as his and Juniper's getaway, reneging on his deal with the boys. They strike a new deal and the boys help Mud get the necessary items to restore the boat and get it out of the tree which includes a visit to Tom. The relationship between these two men is uncertain but essentially Tom has helped raise Mud. Tom knows the reason for Mud’s return involves Juniper. He knows the mad love that Mud has for Juniper but believes she manipulates Mud and will be his demise.
Ellis has moments of clarity regarding love. He is hurt and betrayed by his dealings with women and with Mud. This leads to the climax where Ellis will see what Mud is really made of.
This film is beautifully shot and honestly acted staying true to the essence of the movie. You as a viewer really feel that you are part of the story because you can identify with characters portrayed because each one of us has experienced life, love and trust. And we have all made choices whether right or wrong, but ultimately without regret.
Carrie Lynn is a hip single mother of two. When she’s not working her fingers to the bone at three jobs, she’s rooting for the Chicago Cubs or taking in a rock show. Her favorite cocktail is a blackberry mojito brought to her by her favorite bartender at Ñ.