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Mud has been having a very interesting career resurgence as of late.  While he spent most of the last decade starring in countless romantic comedies, he now finds himself starring in much smaller independent films, which tend to find him playing much more interesting characters.  This is the case with , which is the latest film by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter). A teenage boy named Ellis () and his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) travel to an island near their home in Arkansas to check out a boat abandoned in a tree.  On the island they find a man named Mud (McConaughey), who is camping out on the island until he can find a way to run away with, the love of his life, Juniper ().  Despite finding out that the Mud is wanted by boy police and bounty hunters, the boys set out to help repair the boat, so Mud and Juniper can live happily ever after. I should probably start out by saying that Mud is a bit of a slow film, with a running time over two hours.  That said, I did not really find the film to be boring, especially whenever McConaughey is on screen.  There is a certain mysterious quality to Mud and you are never really sure how pure his intentions are.  That said, when the boys find out he is a fugitive, he is completely honest and explains the exact reasons why he is on the run.  Even though Neckbone is not sure whether they want to help Mud, it is obvious that Ellis is a bit of a hopeless romantic and wants Mud to get the love of his life back.  In fact, there is a sideplot involving Ellis romancing a girl in town and the state of men's relationships with women turns out to be a bit of a theme for the film. In addition to the countless relationship metaphors, how you interact with your family is also a major theme in this film.  Ellis is having a bit of a tough time at home, since his parents are on the verge of getting a divorce.  In some ways this fuels Ellis' desire to reunite Mud with Juniper.  The closest person Mud has to family is a reclusive ex-Military man named Tom Blankenship (Sam Shepard), who raised Mud since he was a child, though they currently have a rocky relationship.  Probably the most interesting family relationship is a small appearance by as Neckbone's uncle, who has his own laid back way of communicating with the kids. I also have to comment a little bit an the overall “southerness” of the film.  Not only is a number of country music songs featured on the soundtrack, but there is the somewhat humorous duo of a store called “Piggly Wiggly” and a brand of baked beans called “Beenee Weenee,” both of which I found were real names (despite how ridiculous they sound).  Of course, this is more just an interesting observation than anything that has any real importance to the plot of the film. Overall, I will say that I enjoyed Mud.  Despite the overall slow nature of the film, I still remained quite interested by the story and the themes underlaid within.8 | LIKED IT

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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