Mud is the name of a new movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, and two teens who put in an amazing performance: Tye Sheridan (also in Tree of Life) and Jacob Lofland. Mud is directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Shotgun Stories). It's a really good movie, not only from the acting and cinematography angles but also for the values it highlights: family, friendship, loyalty, and forgiveness.
Sheridan and Lofland play the roles of Ellis and Neckbone, respectively, two boys growing up on an Arkansas river and learning something about love in an adult world filled with disappointment.
I usually dislike Matthew McConaughey movies. This one's an exception. He is Mud, a mysterious, grimy, gutsy guy who can't quite be figured out. Is he a hero or a fool? Is he to be trusted or feared? He wins the boys' help in tracking down a lost love, Juniper, played by Witherspoon in an understated role. Along the way, young Ellis has to deal with the break-up of his parents and the rejection of a girlfriend. Despite it all, he becomes the real hero as he seeks to pull Mud out of the mud he's made of his life.
In this movie, everybody's broken and everybody needs help. Help comes from unlikely sources. While Mud has been wounded by life, in him we catch a glimpse of Jesus, who like the prophet Hosea doggedly pursues his adulterous bride. Mud understands there's a devil out there who steals, kills, and destroys. Mud risks his life to rescue Ellis from death. He himself is rescued by a father who lost hope but finds it again. In the end, the many risks of love are proven worthwhile.
The Christian view of life holds that this world is messy, just like Mud. Investing your hope in people, places, and pursuits will leave you high and dry - just like the boat Mud lives in that's stuck up in a tree. The best of
human loves disappoint. Only Jesus can come to you in your helpless state, lift you out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, set your feet on a rock and give you a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2).