Minor Spoilers below...
I wanted to love Mud. I still want to love Mud. But, I don't love Mud.
I merely like it. To be honest, I'm a little surprised by the 98% on Rotten Tomatoes that Jeff told me about. There are no dissenting voices? The film is on-the-nose often. The score/soundtrack bugged me, even when it was something I liked playing in the background. Instead of bombastic swelling, we get The Dirty Three, but it's there to serve the same purpose, right on point giving emotional cues. Not sure why it bugged me so much, but it did. Also, on-the-nose foreshadowing. Snakes? Yup, someone's gonna get bit. A gun? Yup, someone's gonna get shot.
Even the boat in the tree kind bugged me as too cute.
I do admire the film for its exploration of in/constancy in love in a world where everything has become unstable, especially love. Nichols is great at taking small stories and making them feel connected to a wider river of myths/stories/songs that we're all wading in. Also, the performances are mostly great (I'm not so sure about Reese Witherspoon).
I'll watch every film that Nichols makes. He's still one of my favorite living American filmmakers. I just didn't love Mud. :(
I'm willing to blame my response on the giant Italian hoagie from the Ithaca bakery. It's a few days later now and I'm still not sure if I've digested that beast completely.