Matthew McConaughey gives an Oscar worthy performance in MUD, a strong southern drama about the nature of love. His character's actual name is Mud, a desperate romantic, hiding out on an island in the Mississippi after killing a man who beat up the woman he's loved for his whole life.
But the main characters in this rich coming-of-age story are two 14 year old Arkansas boys who decide to help the luckless fugitive.
The story begins when the two boys find a boat in the treetops of a deserted island in the Mississippi River. They claim the boat for their own until they discover that someone else is already living in it. They find him on the shoreline.
Mud: What you say boys?
They notice the footprints he's left in the sand, and one of the boys speaks up.
Ellis: You got crosses in your heels.
Mud: Nails, shaped like crosses.
Ellis: What for?
Mud: Ward off evil spirits.
Mcconaughey is totally convincing as Mud, a rough hewn character who owns nothing but a pistol and the clothes on his back. Alone on this island, he's hoping to meet up with the woman he killed for.
Ellis, played by Tye Sheridan (one of Brad Pitt's sons in THE TREE OF LIFE), is intrigued. but Neckbone played by Jacob Lofland, calls Mud a bum.
Mud: I ain't no bum; I got money, boy. You can call me a hobo cause a hobo works for his living; You can call me homeless cause that's true for now. But you call me a bum again, I'm gonna teach you something about respect your daddy never did.
Ellis, who's got a crush on an older high school girl, is moved by Mud's love for his girlfriend and wants to help.
He and Neckbone bring Mud some food and even carry a note to Reese Witherspoon as Juniper, Mud's girlfriend who's holed up in a local motel.
Ellis wants to believe in the love between Mud and Juniper partly because his own parents' marriage is coming apart, and partly because the girl he's fallen for is loving on one occasion and dismissive of him the next time they meet.
But mud's girlfriend has few illusions.
Ellis: I know he'd do anything for you.
Juniper: Is that what you think?
Juniper: Man's a born liar. That's why people like him; he makes them feel good about themselves….I do love him. I just can't spend the rest of my life runnin' away with him.
So MUD is really about the limitations of love, as Ellis comes to learn that no matter how intense it feels, "love" can sometimes be a painfully misguided obsession.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.