Film review: MUD

If you have not seen “Mud”, go see it now.

That sentence in itself could be a solid review. It’s on Netflix. Check it out. Spoilers ahead.

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Crafting a great story is no easy feat. It takes months, years to conjur up the complete idea much less create the thing. I’ve written two full length feature screenplays and both of them took three months to get out a first draft. Editing them is a constant, and it feels as though that they will never complete. So when I stumble across a film like MUD, it reminds me that sometimes I need to stop, smell the flowers, and recognize excellence. And the excellence makes its home in mirroring the truth flawlessly.

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I went to college for film (not boasting), and more specifically, for film editing (definitely not boasting).  I can tell you that when I watch films, I see every single frame of the film. Nothing can sneak by me. I see it all. And If the story doesn’t capture my audience then I begin picking apart the movie, trying to solve its problems and probe its nooks and crannies, trying to jump into the head of the filmmakers, trying to make my own editing decisions as I’m watching the film. It’s like I’m always editing. Always.

I’m editing this review as I write it. See?

There occur times, however, when a story draws me in so much, that any and every flaw that may exist gets passed over by the amazing execution of a worthy story. MUD is one of these occurances.

The story flowed seamlessly. And while I could use this space to rave about the technical achievements of the film (it’s editing, cinematography, etc.) I will abstain. Instead, the importance of the film’s success lies in its deep within its building blocks. That’s where we will reside.

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The Gospel truth: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

Mud (McConaughey) is an outcast, an adopted son, a lover of one woman, a protector, and a father-like figure to his co-star Ellis (Sheridan).  Ellis feels alienated from his splitting family, discovers his first love and consequential heartbreak, and perhaps sees the future version of himself in Mud.

We can relate to Ellis and Mud on so many levels. Rejection, unrequited love, hope in the future, sacrificial love, the hope of reconciliation. But much of this fails for the both of them. They are drawn to one another but ultimately cannot satisfy the deeper longing that each of them has. Ellis desires to see his parents back together and have a love for himself, thus, he tries to repair the broken relationship that Mud and Juniper have.  But he fails, and through the fate of God, he endangers losing his life from an unlikely source, Mud has to choose between his own life, hope, and love, or the life of Ellis.

There are no greater stories than those of a character sacrificing their own life. It reflects the beautiful truth of what Jesus did for his people. No greater love displays itself than that of the cross and it’s in stories like MUD where we see the reflection of this great love.

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When it comes to rating films I’ve always had a hard time understanding the Letter grade or star system. I felt that films that got the same ratings were sometimes leagues apart from one another in tone. A 5/5 comedy does not equal a 5/5  heavy drama… at least in my book.

I have always used food as a helpful device to explain taste in art to the non-art inclined, and I have always thought it would be awesome to the same in reviewing movies. So that is precisely what I’m doing. Pretentious? I don’t care.

For me, Mud is a filet of seared salmon seasoned with lemon and orange spices with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus

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Watery eye moments (SPOILERS) :

1. Tye Sheridan, this little man sure can act. Those frustrated and intense watered red eyes he flashes when his girlfriend rejects his love in front of everyone. Oh my word. So many feels.

2. The way Mud swoops down to try to save Ellis.  Couldn’t help but think of Jesus doing the same for me.

3.  The climax of the film. I dare not say more. But if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.

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