MUD: Coming of Age with a Jealous Love | FCC 150

In Jeff Nichols’ slow-burn, coming of age drama MUD, teenager Ellis (played by Tye Sheridan) learns what a jealous love is from Mud (played by Matthew McConaughey). Join us as we discuss these Christian themes and so much more on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap 
  • 00:03:40 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:27:58 – Listener Feedback
  • 00:39:19 – Christian Themes in MUD

Christian Themes in Mud

Let these passages be your guide as you watch MUD with your friends and loved ones.

Jeremiah 32:38 NASB

They shall be My people, and I will be their God.

Luke 6:31-35 NASB

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Mud’s Jealous Love

Ellis is going to a tough time in his life. He’s going through puberty, his parents are going through a divorce, and he may be moving away from his friends. No kid wants to be in that spot, yet it has befallen Ellis to wade through these changes with minimal support. He has his friend Neckbone and his friend’s uncle Galen, but that’s about it. Such is this case, however, until he meets Mud.

When they first meet, Ellis has compassion on Mud and takes him some food. In an effort to keep the boys around, Mud offers to help them fix an abandoned motorboat. If they keep bringing him food, he’ll help them repair the boat. Once the boys find out that Mud is a fugitive on the run, they’re a little hesitant. Neckbone is ready to leave him alone, but Ellis is willing to help only if Mud is honest with them.

This image from MUD shows Tye Sheridan and Jacob Loflund.

Mud’s confession scene in the boat is a powerful one. He reveals his backstory with a reluctant yet trustworthy gleam, and the boys can’t help but listen. Mud tells them of how, while he and Juniper were “on the outs,” she got tied in with the wrong guy. He got her pregnant but then killed the baby by pushing Juniper down a flight of stairs. Mud then killed that man, and he’s been on the run ever since.

After this confession, Ellis and Neckbone sympathize with Mud’s plight and agree to help him repair the boat. Even as outsiders to Mud and Juniper’s relationship, they can witness Mud’s jealous love for Juniper. This jealous love is the kind of love that God has for His people. God says it over and over again through His prophets in the Old Testament. Jesus even talks about how He longs to gather Israel to Him like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings. It’s the kind of love that God even calls us to have today for everyone

Ellis Coming of Age

The wonderful thing is that Mud begins to love the boys as well. He gives them advice when other role models don’t. He helps them figure out life when other influences don’t. While Neckbone remains a little more skeptical, Ellis soaks in every word. In Mud and his love for Juniper, Ellis sees what love is supposed to be.

This is why it hurts when Mud breaks it off with Juniper. He writes her a note and asks Ellis to deliver it. Juniper takes the letter and accepts Mud’s decision, but Ellis doesn’t like it. He feels betrayed. The illusion of love between Mud and Juniper has been shattered, and Ellis has been broken with it. Ellis returns to Mud with a vengeful fist to the eye and a vocal beatdown.

This image from MUD shows Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, and Jacob Loflund.But in the world of this play, love does exist; it is patient, kind, selfless, and it is not provoked. After Ellis punches and berates Mud, the latter doesn’t retaliate. Instead, he continues to love Ellis. When Ellis then falls in the stream of deadly snakes – suffering a lethal bite – Mud, without even a hint of hesitation, scoops the boy up and leaves the safety of the island to rush him to the emergency clinic and saves his life.

Again, this is the kind of jealous love that Mud has for his loved ones. Now, however, that Ellis is the recipient of it, his life is saved, and he now knows that power. He then takes that power back to his home life and is thus able to weather the storms of his life. May it be so for us Christians, who have known God’s love because we have been saved by it, as we go and do likewise.


Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys, I love it when you cover a film and you make me like it even more than I already did. Jeff Nichols does amazing work, and if you ever get the chance to hear him talk about it, it’s fascinating. There are podcasts that he’s a guest on out there, and his motivations for the stories he writes reveal why they work so well. In MUD as well as other films, his characters are so grounded and authentic that heightened situations they find themselves in become very believable. McConaughey’s restrained performance is a hallmark for Nichols’ direction, and what he gets out of Michael Shannon in TAKE SHELTER is one of the best acting jobs I’ve ever seen- bar none. That film is my favorite of his, and it’s take on family and marriage is a beautiful thing. Jessica Chastain plays one of the most admirable characters you can hope to come across in the movies, you guys would have a field day with that film. And if you like chase movies and homages to film history, then MIDNIGHT SPECIAL has a take on parenthood that will reel you in, big time. Plus Kylo Ren is in it!

    Your approach to MUD and focusing on love was genius. It reminds me of God’s love expressed in the old hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”. I also get the message of how important a healthy marriage is to children, and why modeling proper Christian love is so vital to their maturity and development. Kids like Ellis who experience family trauma can end up looking for love outside the home in unhealthy and unrealistic ways. It’s crucial for us parents to have our act together so we don’t mess up our kids.

    I could go on, but I’m trying to be brief. Love the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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