We all saw “Raging Bull”, “Rocky” or “Million Dollar Baby” and felt how the passion for boxing or wrestling defines an individual’s philosophy of life. But perhaps none of these films have managed to give this sport such a poetic aura as ‘Stuck in the Mud‘ does. Well, in fact, Victor Palm’s short film is a documentary and thus involves a greater dose of subjectivity and a different way in which the viewer interacts with the “main character”. But at the same time, its narrative can be the basis of a much more elaborate project that could compete with established films on this topic. In fact, it would be inappropriate to say that this short documentary is about the world of kickboxing; it’s just like saying that a feature like Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler” only talks about the need for adrenaline that the ring provides.


Thus, Victor Palm is not necessarily concerned with the backstage of this world but with the emotional process of the protagonist, who sees in this sport a form of therapy, a means of overcoming his own emotional blockages. This pretext could have degenerated into a self-pitying confession about how the choice of this career was caused by the dysfunctional relationships of his family. However, despite certain bitter details that the narrator’s voice mentions in his story, this doesn’t happen, fortunately. His confession isn’t, therefore, a form of exorcism of some inner demons or retribution, but a lucid meditation on the human being’s ability to adapt to any context while overcoming their weaknesses. This resilience of the human soul, which is somewhat the main theme of the project, is explored in a temperate, tender, and reflective discourse, in which concrete details from the protagonist’s past are intertwined with “aphorisms” about people’s tendency to be victims of their own fears.


In an emotional rollercoaster that sometimes mimics the (de)crescendos of a music video, Victor Palm develops a visual and acoustic cover for the voice-over of the narrator who, without exploring in an autobiographical way the process of his evolution, expresses how the fight becomes a form of self-knowledge and self-acceptance. The editing of the short film works according to the dynamism imposed by the protagonist’s flow of consciousness, combining in a seemingly chaotic manner fragments of footage, moments of contemplation, and photographic details of nature or sequences from kickboxing matches. This feverish whirlwind of images and sounds is professionally driven by a mature vision that manages to convey a universal message while transgressing the “rules” of a conventional documentary. ‘Stuck in the Mud’ resembles, from this point of view, Jonas Mekas’ experimental documentary, impressing us not only by the authenticity with which it exposes a philosophy of life but also by the poetic sensitivity through which it gives us access to the inner world of a human being as special as any of us.