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Generally favorable reviews- based on 209 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 209

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  1. Jul 26, 2013
    Mud is a gripping film from start to finish, marking itself as a modern classic, reminiscent of Stand By Me. McConaughhey delivers his best performance yet as Mud, the man camping out on an island that two boys discover when exploring. Tye Sheridan (Ellis) makes his breakout performance as one of the boys. His friend, Neckbone (played by Jacob Lofland), is excellent as well. Mud captures every emotion with pure accuracy, strategically placing seeds for the audience to feed off of. I could tell you more about Mud, but this is a film you need to experience yourself. Expand
  2. Jun 6, 2013
    This review contains spoilers. It's a white trash family: three brothers, uneducated Southern rednecks all, Arkansas boys who never left town, fatherless boys barely getting by, and still angry. Kid owns nothing but the tent he pitches in the backyard of his older brother, Son, the eldest, the angriest, the only one with shelter, an actual house with a roof, indoor plumbing even. And then there is boy, the middle child, who lives, literally, in a van by the river, the Mississippi, where Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, and likewise, Mud and Tom Blankenship, floated down to freedom in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Mud, respectively. As far back as Shotgun Stories(the filmmaker's 2008 debut), the Mark Twain novel, albeit less explicitly, found a way to impact the narrative, as it pertains to race relations among blacks and whites in this filmic South. Boy, a middle school basketball coach, diagrams plays for his integrated team, schemes, he tells Kid, are based on Nolan Richardson(the first black coach to helm a predominantly white institution in the old South), whose style of ballin he implemented at Arkansas was given the label "forty minutes of hell". Huck, the precocious boy Twain equipped with a relatively progressive mind, more progressive than what passed as thinking in the 19th century South for the most part, says to himself, "All right then, I'll go to hell," before he tears up the letter he addressed to Miss Watson, his guardian, concerning Jim's whereabouts, deciding that he won't doggedly conform to his brethren's policy of degenerate thralldom. With his mind made up, in regard to rescuing the slave from human bondage, Huck muses: "Because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog," or in other words, an entire razorback, a half-breed pig, whose caricatured likeness serves as the state university's nickname for its sports teams, whom Boy champions, both miscegenation(he once had a black girlfriend, and perhaps, kids) and Arkansas hoops luminaries such as Sidney Moncrief and Corliss Williamson. Forty minutes of hell, according to Richardson, originally referred to his team's conditioning drills, a system of values, racist values that the generically-named boys buck, and likewise, Huck, who rebels against institutionalized racism, in which nature wins over nurture, as he willfully follows Jim into hell. Ellis, conversely, in Mud, was raised by progressive-minded Southerners who seemingly turned their backs on the Confederate flag, since the boy's name, a Yankee name, conjures up Ellis Island. The father, a small business owner, sells fresh fish to a largely black clientele, and when his son shows up late for work, he docks the boy ten dollars. No ensuing protestation comes out of Ellis' mouth about the pecuniary fine, since good service, the boy reckons, is a colorblind matter. Later, in Mud, Ellis and his best friend Neckbone, knock on motel room doors, posing as fishmongers, in order to locate Juniper, but before they reach her, the film poses a question, a dialectical one, as a black man, from his entryway, staring blankly at Ellis and Neckbone, asks the two boys, "Why the hell would I want to buy fish?" After all, Huck, despite being Jim's friend, still insists on the slave serving him, telling the runaway Negro to "pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot cornbread." The black man in the room, arguably, is a stand-in for Jim, and he doesn't seem all that impressed that Ellis goes from house to house, handing black customers their bag of fileted fish, according them the same respect as white men. In their heart of hearts, the black man feels, he and his people will always be, in Twain's own parlance, "n*****s". Wherefore The Adventures... is considered, by some, a racist novel, Minor Threat, a DC hardcore band, was also leveled with the same charge of intolerance, in due part to the song "Guilty of Being White". Creating even more dissonance, Neckbone wears a Fugazi tee. "You blame me for slavery," Ian MacKaye writes, "a hundred years before I was born," and, perhaps, not coincidentally, both novel(1884) and album(1984) are separated by the same hundred years. For sure, judging by the askant manner in which the black man from the motel dismisses the boys' harried pitch for fresh catfish, he thinks they are guilty of being white. This reconstructed Jim no longer seems grateful for the kindness of white people, and moreover, doesn't want to participate in a film where slavery is coopted as a metaphor for unrequited love, as in "no man is an island.". Neckbone, in professing his hatred for snakes, wittingly or unwittingly, conveys an antipathy for African-Americans, since the cottonmouths slithering in the pond are black. When Ellis gets bitten, in an intertextual sense, Jim is avenging the prank Huck pulls which leads to his rattlesnake bite. True, Neckbone never "lynched somebody", but is he innocent? Collapse
  3. Aug 13, 2013
    "Mud," the third feature from writer and director Jeff Nichols, is a remarkably accomplished piece of storytelling. From his promising, impressive film début, "Shotgun Stories," (2007) to the fascinating "Take Shelter," (2011) both showcases for Michael Shannon, who also has a key-supporting role in this film. Nichols has taken another step forward with his latest, which draws on Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" as a rough model for Ellis's story. The film presents an impressive narrative construction and compelling characters with dynamic performances.

    Two boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), speed out on their boat to a nearby spit of land to check out the unusual sight of a boat ensnared in a treetop, when they encounter an inhabitant. Mud (Matthew McConaughey), declares that he's waiting around for an arranged date with girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). So he promptly enlists the help of the boys, who are in need of an adventurous break from their own humdrum lives. The boys have plenty of questions about his origins, but Mud doesn't reveal much. Mud is from around these parts, but fearful, it seems, of straying too close to the people and places of his youth.

    At its heart, "Mud" is a story of the strength of familial bonds, of relationships destroyed by our tragically human, ineradicable flaws, and a coming-of-age film that defines us all. "Mud" deals in simple heartfelt emotions, and in a genuinely moving fashion. Nichols' approach to filmmaking also provides an additional palpable emotional element to the earnest storyline. "Mud" doesn't end up being a perfect film, with a runtime that feels a bit long, and its ending is a little weak. That's not to say it isn't fitting, but it just doesn't feel as satisfying as the rest of the film.

    Always bringing out the best in his cast, Nichols solidifies his status as one of the best indie filmmakers of today. "Mud" delivers astounding performances while wrapping up the perfect blend of dramatic weight and fairy tale happiness. When the story gets going, and the moralities of characters' actions come into play, and there's no way to avoid being captivated by its southern hospitality.
  4. Dec 5, 2013
    I get that it doesn't have CG. This movie would have won Academy Awards in another time. I had a strong visceral reaction to this film, which is precisely why I think it is a keeper. The ending didn't quite fit, which is why I gave it a 9. Mud has an undercurrent of emotional drama that few movies have, given that CG rules the day. I watched it with my middle son, who happens to be 28 and a confirmed syf-y, CG, thriller moviegoer. After the film, he announced that this was the best movie he had seen in a long time. I agree. Take that Avatar. Expand
  5. Apr 30, 2013
    Great acting and a moving but calm storyline gives this movie a pleasant feel. There is really nothing wrong with this movie. it starts with great introductions to all the characters and gives you just enough information to be curious. There were a couple of times while watching this that I had to just take myself out of it to just think, "What a quality made movie". What really bumps the score up for me though it the screenwriters resistance to jump into typical Hollywood cliches. Certainly better than many wide release films out there and this one deserves a wide release soon. Expand
  6. May 12, 2013
    Mud covers how to become a man. What is the role of a man in his family, to his son, to his wife and to the woman he loves? What will a man sacrifice for love? Is a man's word his bond or burden? Tragically, most men will not see this film and appreciate's this film's velvety goodness. Nichols is a gentle taskmaster, tempering his cold lashes of truth with sweet southern charm. McConaughey has never been more charming in his devotion and desperation. There is a soul behind those baby blue eyes. The real star belongs to Sheridan, who's tour de force performance, shows how boys become men. A young star is born. This film ultimately highlights how boys must lose themselves to change, to embrace change and uncertainty with strength, faith, loyalty and family. Innocence is always a casualty, but doesn't make it beautiful corpse? Expand
  7. May 14, 2013
    This is the best film of the year so far. The acting and writing is great, and the movie feels authentic. I was never bored at the 2 hours and 5 minutes it took to watch it. It is kind of a modern day Huck Finn story, with two boys helping a fugitive to escape. The story mainly centers around Ellis, perfectly played by Tye Sheridan, who's world is changing with the impending divorce of his parents and his first crush on an older girl in town. They live on a river boat and his parents have loose reins on his upbringing, which I appreciated. He is free to live a very fun childhood with his best friend Neckbone, played excellently by Jacob Lofland. Matthew McConaughey is also good as the fugitive. If you like coming of age films like "Stand By Me", you will like this one. Expand
  8. Jun 1, 2013
    A wonderfully entertaining story and film. Kudos to MM for what is clearly his best performance. The movie is beautifully filmed, and one feels absorbed by the film (it "helped" that we arrived late and sat in the 3rd row!). Tye Sheridan is superb, perfectly portraying a young man, maturing too fast, yet endearingly naive. Jacob Lofeland also does a wonderful job, juxtaposed vs. Sheridan, more boyish, clearly looking up to, and trusting Sheridan, almost with his life. Together, the boys made some outrageous decisions, trusting their as yet undeveloped instincts, to provide a lifeline to a disheveled Mud. The writing and dialogue are are incredibly honest and credible for small town Arkansas. The story itself is captivating and anyone who "zzzzzzzzz'd" their way through this film, was probably overtired. It's impossible to deign the ending til the very end. My wife also enjoyed this immensely. Thanks to Jeff Nichols for an exciting and entertaining evening. Expand
  9. Jun 5, 2013
    For full review:

    skinny: Mud is a must see. McConaughey gives an Oscar-worthy performance that is rivaled by Tye Sheridan struggling teenager. The setting is transformative and you will feel like you have been transported into a world you didn't know existed along the Mississippi. The movie throws every genre you can think of at
    you and succeeds in pulling all of them off without seeming cheap or shallow. Jeff Nichols is a force to reckoned with and I cannot wait for his next project. Mud is my second real contender for my top 10 this year (Spring Breakers being my first). I guarantee you this story and the heart of this movie will stick with you much longer than spectacle that is Iron Man 3 or The Lone Ranger. Expand
  10. Jun 7, 2013
    Though my opinion might be slightly biased as director Jeff Nichols is from my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas and is certainly the most prominent filmmaker to come out of here in quite some time it is also nice to see the south receive authentic representation in a film that receives wide, and mostly positive recognition. This isn't Nichols first foray into depicting the south in all its bare normality's and simplicities though as he has ventured here twice before in 2007's deadly family feud drama Shotgun Stories and 2011's Take Shelter that perfectly encapsulated the inner demons and slow unraveling of the human psyche. In his latest, Mud, Nichols has kept his location the same as he is able to so naturally create a sense of place and that is key here as our two young protagonists live on and off of the river that guides them to an island where they meet the titular character. The atmosphere and the way in which Nichols crafts his story lend an almost mythical quality to the tone. It is as if this could just have easily been a southern fable that parents told their children at night so as to keep them from wandering where they aren't supposed to go. Still, even with these vibes of a folk legend the film is able to say and do so much more than simply teach a moral lesson. I expected the slow pace, the southern setting, and the bigger implications the story might make other than what is on the surface, but what continues to surprise is the renaissance of a period that Matthew McConaughey is having in his career at the moment. All of the performances here are strong and Nichols has rounded up a solid cast, especially in his two young stars, but it is McConaughey's turn as the title character that will have you thinking about the film long after the credits roll and what he stood for, what he wanted from life, and most inconspicuously, who he really was.

    read the whole review at
  11. Jul 7, 2013
    Mud is an enjoyable modern "coming of age" American drama film which takes place in the deep South. The two young new actors Tye Sheridan & Jacob Lofland, along with Matthew McConaughey provided the audience with a superb performance! Any fan of the 1986 movie, "Stand by Me," should enjoy this movie.
  12. Aug 23, 2013
    Mud marks the first great movie of 2013. The acting is fantastic and especially hats off to the young boys whose performances are so spot on. Beautiful imagery of a part of the south rarely showcased in films. A great story all around.
  13. Aug 16, 2013
    Understated and beautiful, this film brings you gently into the character's world, and then grips you. The writer/director Jeff Nichols gave the cast plenty to work with, and they didn't let him down. Compelling and honest throughout, this is my favourite film of the year so far.
  14. Aug 18, 2013
    "Mud" is an outstanding American film that is destined to be a classic. It features a terrific performances by all involved. It's definitely a film that will stick with you long afterwards, and you can't really ask for more than that from a movie these days.
  15. Aug 22, 2013
    I don't want to spoil anything that happens in this movie, but I will tell you that it is a fantastic story and a must watch. Matthew McConaughey delivers a fantastic performance, as does the rest of the cast. The best part about this movie is that it all feels realistic. Watching it all unfold can deliver on the edge of your seat moments, but the real prize comes from the little moments that help keep everything in place. These are the moments that the true potential of the actors comes forth for you to marvel at. Just the little things like the expression on a face go a long way to create the sense of realism in this movie of love and loss. Make no mistake, "Mud" is a fantastic movie and a must see. Expand
  16. Oct 22, 2013
    There's a gritty and realistic form of wisdom to take away from 'Mud', full of surprises, subtle brilliance and some engrossing performances. Mud feels art house, but it also hints towards mainstream elements, either way it throws some interesting characters into one big pot, each with their own problems and difficulties in life, age not being a factor. Although the title refers to the character Matthew McConaughey portrays, there's also two young boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) are two young boys who have a knack for going out in little adventures, one which brings them to a secluded island in the waters of Arkansas, where they live. On said island, they try to claim ownership of a stranded boat high in trees, but they soon realise that they aren't the only ones who know about the boat, Mud comes into their life with his unkempt hair, heavy southern accent and aspirations of meeting his one true love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), but when love is involved, it isn't usually savoury or happy trials ahead. Ellis in particular is young boy with all the problems in front of him, parents possibly getting divorced, learning about love and even heartbreak for the first time. The story of Ellis and Mud are mirrored in a deliberate and intriguing tale, they share similar experiences and the film seems to be showing what Mud's life was like as a younger person, perhaps showing the mistakes he made and how to steer Ellis away from making the same ones. This is the sort of film where many will judge the character of Mud, to many he will still be a murderer on the run, no matter his excuses, but to others he will be the man looking out for his girl, even if she doesn't show the same gratitude. The height of brilliance in the storytelling from writer and director Jeff Nichols strong and inspirational throughout the film, he paints a sort of prophet in Mud who isn't necessarily delusional, but more like someone who has hit rock bottom already and doesn't really know where else to go but up.
    The most catching part of the film is its originality, no adaptions or anything of the sort, films these days to be literal in the sense of having a book to centre a story around, but this one, these characters are equally as significant as any black and white one, Ellis and Neckbone are smart kids, but they buy into Mud and his smooth talking plans too easily, each person who has known Mud before the two boys has had little redeeming things to say about him, but Ellis continues to return to him and help him, regardless of the consequences. My only gripe with an otherwise impeccable film is an ending that doesn't quite fit, a shootout that offers no real conclusive finish, only an opportunity for some wounds to heal.
    But other than that, Mud is easily the most touching of films that is completely original, it's forthright in its approach to how we perceive human beings who have perhaps gone off track a little, but also how the most unlikely of people can put them back on the right path, McConaughey at his finest with a very convincing performance from Sheridan, it's wisdom at its toughest and brilliance in its own artful way.
  17. Jan 19, 2014
    One of those heartwarming stories with 2 young boys looking for a role model and the meaning of love. This delivers FAR past what I expected and has become one of my favorite movies of the whole year. McConaughey and the other boys have incredible performances that pull you right into the story. Could possible become a new classic that is hopelessly overlooked at awards season
  18. Mar 31, 2014
    Charming, sweet, touching, heartfelt, and tragic, Mud is a successful film for many reasons, one of which is the acting. It is hard to think of an actor more on top of his game than Matthew McConaughey and Mud is no exception. His charisma and easy going demeanor really pull you in and, while he is not directly the protagonist (even though he plays the title character), you find yourself rooting for him and hoping things work out for him. On top of McConaughey, both Tye Sheridan and Jack Lofland did fantastic jobs. For actors of their age, they packed considerable emotion and passion into their roles and really impressed me. Also, the supporting cast, headed by Sam Shepard was also phenomenal and really helped. While Fargo is a superior film, a lot of Mud reminded me of Fargo. While it was a totally different film, the way the film totally embodies the region it depicts and sort of oozes with Southern charm is very similar to the way Fargo really represents Minnesota. Both are also beautifully filmed. Fargo's imagery really helped to define it, especially with the blue/white colorization, while Mud's visuals have the same effect, but with golden light on it as if it was shot in "the magic hour" a la Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven. Expand
  19. Apr 22, 2014
    Mud is one of the best movies of late. Many stars are here, and they are anything but wasted. It starts off a little slow, but once Mud gets going, it's thrillingly alive. Even after it's ending, I wanted more. McConaughey's performance in this well-executed drama is one of the best of his career. However, it's the kid, Tye Sheridan, who steals the show here. Even for a teenage actor, Sheridan shows depth to the character, and won't be a "one-hit wonder". This kid has real potential, and I would love to see him in more movies. Expand
  20. Jun 20, 2014
    One of the best Southern American drama ever seen in recent memory and makes me love that genre. "Mud" is sweet and heartwarming drama film about trust, love, loss and woman . It's just like an enchanted-fairytale from Arkansas Texas, easily like Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
  21. Sep 30, 2014
    Mud was my favorite movie last year. A lovely fable about the friendship between a drifter on the run from the police and two teenage boys, growing up in dysfunctional families, on the Arkansas River. It brought to mind Carson McCullers as much as Mark Twain. McConaughey as a man who had been a feral child and had never really become an adult, gave a beautifully modulated performance, making a touching portrait of a simple man easily the equal of his Oscar-winning work in Dallas Buyers Club. Jeff Nichols' film is even more emotionally involving than his stunning "Take Shelter", a lovely portrait of a simple society being torn apart by "progress". Superb work also by Tye Sheridan and Sam Shepard. Expand
  22. Nov 26, 2014
    I was captivated from the very beginning to the credits. I, for one, would have entitled it something else, since the lead actor here was not Mcconaughey, but Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland. Considering how young they were, their performance was nothing but a truly remarkable one, hats off to them.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Adam Nayman
    May 17, 2013
    So yes, Mud is messy, but it’s also rich and earthy in a way that suggests a filmmaker who is deeply immersed in his story, his characters and his surroundings.
  2. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    May 14, 2013
    It’s a broader, starrier project than either of Nichols’s previous films, and he handles the transition to the major league with relative confidence.
  3. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    May 5, 2013
    A bold, intelligent, 21st century take on Mark Twain — with added occult tendencies.