Mud ★★½

Close encounters
Of the Southern kind.
Coming of masculinity
Amongst levitating boats
And problematic snakes.

We'll start with the pro-side: Nichols is a Spielberg derivative here, but instead of taking the CGI-heavy derivative side, he takes the magical coming of age side, complete with a good dosage of Spielberg face shots. Sense of place and time is quite commendable, even without giving us a title card to tell us where/when (phones have cords attached to them! Spitting on hands before a deal shake.) But can't help but feel like there's not much spinning under the wheels of this film full of archetypes to even bother writing home about. Film ends up about being moral grays, father/sons, disillusionment (for the post Obama age??? Nah), but gets to it through some stupid ways with diminishing returns as it carries on: hit men who pray for the only arbitrary reason of "humanizing" them (why if you're just gonna kill them all anyways without giving them characters?), and women who always torture their men and never let them be men damn it. Besides some pretty lighting and nice locales, the shot/reverse shots all kind of bored me. Yes, it's more or less a fairy tale, but nothing really popped up for me once it established everything it had going—there's a real lack of specificity here, especially compared to Take Shelter.