Title – Mudbound (2017)
Director – Dee Rees (Pariah)
Cast – Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige
Plot – A look at the lives of the McAllan and Jackson families who live in the harsh rural landscape of Mississippi during the great war of the 1940’s and a time in American history where the great divide between white and black still prevails.
“Over there, I was a liberator. People lined up in the streets waiting for us”
Review by Eddie on 21/11/2017
A slow-burning character centric drama, that’s powerful themes of race and acceptance are just as resonate today as they were in the time in which Dee Ree’s impressive film is set, Mudbound is one of the finest films yet released through Netflix’s streaming service and a potential player at the upcoming awards season that is soon to be upon us.
Adapted from Hillary Jordan’s sprawling novel of the same name, Mudbound tells the seemingly simple story of two families of different circumstance and race, living their lives in the harsh farming surrounds of Mississippi during the war torn era of the late 1930’s and 1940’s.
Featuring an array of voiceovers and inner voice monologues of both the white McAllan family, wannabe farmers who’ve in many ways gone into a venture that is beyond their capabilities and the black Jackson family, who are hardworking and knowledgeable farm hands determined to make the most of their lot in life, Mudbound offers an insightful and emotionally resonate look at American culture of the time.
The McAllan’s, led by Jason Clarke’s one-eyed Henry and featuring Carey Mulligan’s kind spirited Laura, Henry’s racist father Pappy (played wonderfully despicable by Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks) and Henry’s war pilot and PTSD suffering brother Jamie, which acts as Garret’s Hedlund’s best big screen performance to date, showcase a family struggling to coming to grips with who and what they are.
The opposite then to the Jackson family, led brilliantly by Rob Morgan and Mary J. Blige’s father/mom duo Hap and Florence who are fighting through their trials with both the McAllan’s, the land and the absence of Jason Mitchell as their oldest son Ronsel, who has enlisted in the war, are a family who know exactly what they are in the eyes of the country they live in and are a family who have a clear goal on what they want out of their landscape.
There’s a lot of character’s and movements for Ree’s to juggle as she flies between both various timelines, countries and a sprawling collection of personal but she handles it all with aplomb.
Employing almost a Malick like sensibility of visual palettes, voiceover and construction, Ree’s film is big in scheme and scope but is most importantly an intimate character exploration of both these human beings and a country that may’ve been at war overseas but was also at war within itself and this powerful expose is brought powerfully to life by the young filmmaker and her on-song cast.
Ending up being one of the years strongest ensembles, Mudbound’s recognisable cast are all as good as each other, even though standouts include Hedlund, the increasingly impressive Jason Mitchell and Rob Morgan’s Jackson family patriarch, while the likely key awards player Blige showcases a previously untapped ability as an actress that will likely see the music star feature more prominently in films to come.
Each actor displays a care and nuance for the material at play and as this slowly paced drama proceeds on a path of certain confrontation, bubbling racial tensions and character motivations coming to the forefront, Mudbound’s final segments will pack a powerful punch to viewers who’ve becoming entrenched in the dirt and grain of the film and will make this an experience that sticks with you after the credits have rolled.
Final Say –
Not a perfect film and one that unquestionably has been told before, Mudbound is still an undeniably effective and brilliantly acted epic that touches upon some highly volatile and important themes. Anchored by all-round award worthy turns and a career defining directional effort by Rees, Mudbound is one of the year’s top films and easily one of Netflix’s best release’s yet.
4 ½ mud filled crops out of 5