DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Mellow Mud (Es Esmu Seit)

Be careful not to sink! Coming-of-age tale set in rural Latvia tackles the issues of economic emigration, the ruthlessness of free market, abandonment and emergent sexuality - streaming now with DMovies

Renārs Vimba’s debut feature, Mellow Mud, started life in 2011 as his final project at the Latvian Academy of Culture. In the film, screenwriter and director Vimba takes us to Kaunata village in rural Latvia, where he spins an adolescent girl’s coming-of-age story against the subtle backdrop of Eastern European economic emigration.

The film initially sets the scene by introducing us to Raya (Elīna Vaska) and Robis (Andžejs Jānis Lilientāls), two children whose father has recently passed away and whose estranged mother moved to London in search of better financial fortunes. They are currently living with sharp-tongued paternal grandmother Olga (Ruta Birgere) on her small apple tree estate, where a social worker occasionally drops by to keep an eye on things. Early on, Olga has a night-time cardiac arrest, but instead of informing the village, Raya buries her grandmother among the trees and keeps things under wraps. With the help of Olga’s pension, Raya gains enough independence to explore her maternal abandonment anguish through the familiar tropes of wearisome wandering, minor law-breaking and emergent sexuality.

The plot has a few gaps a tendency to brush over the inexplicable holes that it creates. At times, it feels as if the film might be taking place as Raya’s teenage fantasy, although the conclusion is too sombre for this to be the case. Nonetheless, Vaska’s performance as the protagonist is a real highlight and one of understated perfection. She consistently conveys adolescent ennui in all its confused glory, with an insolent flick of her hood or through her playfully naive mendacity.

The rural setting is also refreshing, both in its gorgeous autumnal tones and as a canvas to explore the mixed fortunes of post-communist transition in the former Eastern Bloc. Young people have no future in Kaunata and leave for the Latvian capital. Conversely, the only character from Riga appears to have come to the countryside to manipulate its trusting community. The film’s most pertinent thread examines the ruthlessness of a free market that tears parents away from children left behind in the East. This is best portrayed in Raya’s climactic trip to her mother’s apartment in London, where rural intimacy is discarded for unfulfilled urban estrangement. However, I couldn’t escape the feeling that this theme was dissected with greater incision in another recent Eastern European debut, Piotr Domalewski’s Silent Night (2017).

Mellow Mud is abundant in worthwhile ideas that its promising female lead carries out to varying degrees of narrative success. The rural cinematic landscape has a tendency to be dominated by male characters (e.g. God’s Own Country, dir. Francis Lee, 2017) and the focus on Raya’s story is commendable, if not always believable. This is a solid debut and with some fine-tuning on future scripts, Vimba will definitely be one to watch.

Watch Mellow Mud now, with DMovies and Eyelet:

By Richard Greenhill - 04-04-2018

Richard Greenhill started out in London many moons ago on a journey that has led him through a handful of northern universities, across a few fleeting stints teaching English and, most recently, into ...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

Walk this Way with DMovies: Docs from around the World Collection


Alasdair Bayman - 20-03-2018

The globe is full of wonders, delights and problems, so Walk this Way and their Docs from around the World Collection bring some of the best documentaries straight to you on VoD. Sit back and absorb yourself in all aspects of our little blue planet! [Read More...]


Fien Troch

Tiago Di Mauro - 07-09-2016

Broken parents, broken children? The challenge of bringing up children when you came from a dysfunctional background yourself - on VoD in April! [Read More...]

10 Billion (10 Milliarden)

Valentin Thurn

Alasdair Bayman - 28-02-2018

Where are you gonna get your food from in a few decades, once the world population hits a 10-digit figure? Doc raises urgent questions about overpopulation and sustainability, revealing that we could experience a "food war" - on VoD as part of the Walk This Way Collection [Read More...]