Why do films score 97% on Rotten Tomatoes? While great acting and competent directing can generate that kind of appeal, it is a solid storyform that best explains the accolades. Mud is no exception.
Matthew McConaughey stars as the reclusive Influence Character (Mud) to Tye Sheridan’s Main Character (Ellis). The two share their struggles with love and the opposite sex Relationship Story Throughline, all while planning an escape from Joe Don Baker (King)—the father set on murderous revenge (Overall Story Throughline).
Beyond presenting these four throughlines clearly, the film adds complexity by separating out the Main Character point-of-view from the objective character function of Protagonist (see Redefining Protagonist and Main Character). Found within the same player, their individuality allows for a story of depth and dramatic breadth. Ellis gives us our window into the story’s events while Mud, as Protagonist, pursues a course that endangers them all. What could have been a single point-and-shoot thriller becomes an intricately woven tapestry of tantalizing themes.
While the film serves up ample amounts of dread and anxiety up until the very end, it never loses sight of its central core: two simple Mississippi folk helping each other heal from the wounds left by the women they loved. For that, Mud deserves its high score on RT and sits as one of the best films of 2013.