Mud is a movie about chasing the love of your life at all costs.
In this scene, Juniper is standing outside her motel room smoking a cigarette. From the distance, Mud steps out from behind a large pole in an adjacent lot. She sees him and they meet eyes. He lifts his hand slowly, saying hello and farewell in the same motion. She lifts her hand from the walkway rail and shrugs her shoulder to say sorry, I can’t give you what you want. Her eyes water. Mud turns to walk away. She wipes her eyes, relieved. Not for herself, but for Mud because he is free of what caused him to become a criminal: chasing her.
The scene starts at 01:49:20 in the movie (available on YouTube).
Juniper comes to the town Mud is hiding out in, making us think that she is interested in being with him. But, after she arrives, her actions reveal that she is not as committed to the relationship as he is. She loves him as much as he loves her, but she’s not ready to be with him. This scene conveys that through body language, more succinctly and beautifully than words ever could. This scene also shows that Mud is not a madman chasing a girl. He realizes he has chased her long enough and understands that this is the end of the road. It’s time to let her go.
Idolizing and chasing someone has never gotten me in trouble like it did Mud, but it has led to jealousy and heartbreak. At a church retreat, there was a girl who flirted with me, rubbed up against me, and told me she liked me. But she did the same with other guys, like Juniper with the guy in the bar before this scene. On the final night of the retreat, we were supposed to write letters to our new friends and put them in a basket with our name on it. I got one from her and thought it meant something more than it did, like Juniper coming to town. Idolizing her created a lot of tension and ups and downs. I know she liked me, but she didn’t want to be with me like I wanted to be with her. We stayed in contact after the retreat and, like Mud, it took me a while to say farewell.
The scene is from page 110 of the Mud screenplay.
EXT. EXECUTIVE INN - EVENING The sun has been down for awhile. Juniper leans on the railing outside her room taking long drags from a cigarette. She sees Miller’s green pick-up parked below. Suddenly the headlights pop on and the truck pulls away. She watches, curious, as it speeds out of sight. A train whistle blows in the distance but is overtaken by a semi rumbling down the street. She watches the semi pass revealing the DAY/NITE Gas Station’s parking lot. MUD STANDS IN THE CORNER OF THE LOT. Half lit by a sodium lamp, he stares up at her. Juniper raises up. Even in the dim light she knows it’s him. She doesn’t move. Mud holds up a hand, waves. Juniper slowly waves back. She tries to smile at him, but she’s about to cry and it’s hard to muster. Mud smiles. After a long moment, he turns his back and disappears in the shadows at the side of the gas station. Juniper watches after him.