The Corinth Films DVD release of the 2016 Latvian drama "Mellow Mud" presents a highly artistic reminder both that adolescence is referred to as growing pains for a good reason and that things are tough all over. The titular muck provides an apt metaphor for both.
The numerous accolades for this coming-of-age movie include a trio of top honors at the 2016 Latvian National Film Festival and a Best Feature Film win at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival .
The following trailer highlights the perfect portrayal of central 17 year-old girl Raya by Elina Vaska; the sense of the trauma and the drama that Raya must endure is the icing on the cake.
The element that sets "Mud" aside from facially similar fare is the manner in which writer/director Renars Vimba presents the same old story in a fresh new light. The series of unfortunate circumstances that have led to Raya and younger brother Robis living with not-so-loving grandmother Olga are that their father is dead and their mother abandoned them to facilitate her new life in England.
Things further unravel when Olga buys the farm while in the course of trying to sell it out from under the kids. This further contributes to the angst of Raya as to the only options of the siblings being enduring their current lives of quiet desperation and the alternative especially being a hard-knock life as to Robis. The personal interest of a social worker greatly contributes to this strife that requires a "Weekend at Olga's" form of subterfuge.
A school competition provides Raya hope in two forms. The finals being in London make a mother and child reunion only a prize-winning essay away. Additionally, this contest sets the stage for Raya and her young teacher, who is the subject of school-girl fantasy, to emulate the main characters in that book by Nabokov.
These aspects of the life of Raya require juggling in the form of being a mother to Robis and trying to avoid having him taken away, being the good girl that school authorities always wanted her to be, and maintaining an "its complicated" relationship. Of course, all of this increasing collides as the film progresses.
The absence of a Hollywood ending provides another strong argument for adding "Mud" to your physical-media library. All concerned being wiser but not necessarily happier just ahead of the end credits verifies that this is tale of real-life.