Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Year 7, Day 265 - 9/22/15 - Movie #2,157

BEFORE:  Day 6 of McConnaughey Mania, with just three to go after this one - but they're the three longest and most anticipated ones.  I don't know much about "Mud", I think I got it off cable just to fill up the disc with "Dallas Buyers Club".   My original plan was to watch "Interstellar" right after "Failure to Launch", because the names (sort of) both connect to space travel, but I'm going to stick with the chronology of McConnaughey's career.

THE PLOT:  Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the vigilantes that are on his trail and to reunite him with his true love. 

AFTER: I get a real "Sling Blade" sort of vibe off of this one, not only because the film is set in the South, but also because that film was about (among other things) the relationship between a questionable man and a young boy, and here there's a relationship between a questionable man and two young boys.  The man in question here is named Mud, and that's not usually a good sign.  

The boys find Mud on an island, living in a boat that's stuck up in a tree after a flood of some kind.  That's what I was able to piece together, anyway, the Southern accents in this film are really thick, and it took me a while to understand what people were saying.  For the second half of the film, I turned the closed captioning on, and that made things a lot easier.  Eventually we learn that Mud is hiding from the law, and has plans to get the boat out of the tree, fix it up and sail away, spoiling the kids' plan for the greatest treehouse ever.  

Hmm, this is the third film in the McConnaughey chain to be about boats in some way, after "Amistad" and "Failure to Launch" - in the latter film he played a boat broker and went out sailing with his phony surrogate girlfriend.  I wonder if the actor has an affinity for boats in real life.  Look at that, Wikipedia says he sailed down the Amazon River in 2005 to promote the film "Sahara".  Interesting.

Without saying too much about why Mud is hiding out, it has everything to do with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Juniper.  For the sake of story convenience, she is staying at a nearby hotel, and the boys, in addition to bringing Mud food and supplies, are enlisted to carry messages between Mud and Juniper.  Meanwhile, the relationship problems of both one of the boys and his parents are explored, with a common thread, that of the transitory nature of relationships, largely due to fickle women.  

When you put this next to "Failure to Launch", that's a large coincidence - women are the players, the deceivers in both films, and the men are the faithful ones, the ones still hurt from their last relationship, and unable to recover or move on.  Obviously the audience is seeing just pieces and parts of the relationships in question, and there may be another side to the stories, but it's telling that what we do see always seems to put the blame squarely on the female side.  The fact that men tend to fly off the handle and act violently when things don't go their way couldn't have anything to do with it, now could it?  

This is a very slow-moving film, the story progresses at a snail's pace, but things do speed up near the end.  I admit I only made it halfway through before falling asleep, and I had to finish in the morning - but I'm glad I stuck with it.  I'm hard pressed to determine the point or moral of the film, though, other than that women are deceptive snakes, and that relationships are transitory.  And we get to learn the true meaning of the song "Help Me, Rhonda".  

But I can't help but feel that Mud's back-story was much more interesting than the one shown in this film.  There are so many references to that, as what took place before is slowly revealed, that I think we were shown the wrong time period in Mud's life.  My maxim "Show, don't tell" suggests that the earlier events would have made for a more interesting movie. 

Also starring Sam Shepard (last seen in "Crimes of the Heart"), Reese Witherspoon (last seen in "The Importance of Being Earnest"), Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson (last seen in "12 Years a Slave"), Michael Shannon (last seen in "Revolutionary Road"), Joe Don Baker (last seen in "Tomorrow Never Dies"), Paul Sparks, Stuart Greer, Bonnie Sturdivant.

RATING: 4 out of 10 bonfires

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