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Mud (2012)

Mississipi Learning — Written by lezard on 18.11.2019

Can you, must you be faithful ? Can you be true to what you once were, to the ones you love, to the ones you hate ? Is living giving up ? What happens when the crystal of childhood meets the mud of the rivers.
Like the Mississippi, a mother-river, a father-river, these questions irrigate the 3rd movie of the young talented Arkansas-born Jeff Nichols.
The movie starts with Ellis who escapes in the night to join his 14-year old friend Neck. Together, on a raft, they go up the river, to reach an island. Children on a river immediatly evoke novels (Mark Twain) or movies (the Night of the Hunter). Litterature of childhood, childhood of litterature. Going up a river is not fortuitous as well and evokes other novels or movies.
On an island, they find a boat perched on a tree. The elements of the puzzle are well in place : the night, a mysterious island, a boat/shack. But every Robinson should know that desert islands are seldom desert.
Out of nowhere comes Mud, a drifting loser, on the run after the murder of a man who harassed Juniper, his one and only love since childhood. At once, Ellis admires Mud, who represent the ideal knight, the raider, the adventurer. He will help him regardless of the obstacles because Mud embodies his hopes and his ideals of faithfulness, at a very special moment of his life. He’s growing up, his parents want to get a divorce, he discovers love and looks for answers.
Mud is tracked down by the Police, but also by the family of the victim. It is a film moir with a violent ending. But before the end there is the heart of the film. It’s about believing, about loving and being saved. Just like Mud was redeemed by Juniper’s love.
What is this mud Mud is made of ? Is it the mud that stains and blackens, the mud of lies ? Or the mud that relaxes and heals ? Or the one you shape with your own hands to create figures in the light ? Certainly the mud where juniper-trees grow. As to Ellis, finding and I-land seems to be obvious .
It’s not a talkative movie, accents are deeply rooted in the land damp with water. Words lie and betray the heart. Actions, gestures only matter, like the one which ponctuates two key-moments.
There are cross-like prints in the sand, blows, tears and blood, bird-tattoo on her arm, snake tatto on his. There are real snakes that bite fallen children. There are lights at the bottom of the river. There is Sam Shepard. There is the night and the hunters. Eventually there is the evernew bewilderment of water.
A great rich movie.

Mud Reviews