Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mudbound - Movie Review

The Movie: Mudbound

The Director: Dee Rees

The Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clark, Jason Mitchell, Jonathan Banks, Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige, Kerry Cahill, Dylan Arnold, Lucy Faust, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

The Story: Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.

The Review:
In 2011, Dee Rees made her directorial debut with a film called Pariah that garnered a ton of critical acclaim and more than a few awards to go with it. Mudbound is her second feature film and it should also earn piles of praise from movie watchers and critics alike. This time around she takes her story telling skills outside the modern inner city setting and takes things way back to the World War II era south land where patriotism and racism seemed to go hand in hand.

The focus of the story is on two families, one led by Jason Clarke's Henry McAllan and the other by Rob Morgan who plays Hap Jackson. Each of the two fathers are living their own version of struggle although on completely different levels since the Jackson are employed by the McAllans in a deal that basically amounts to legal slavery through debt. Each father has a son who has gone off to war with Garrett Hedlund  playing Jamie McAllan and Jason Mitchell playing Ronsel Jackson.

All four leading men do a heck of a job with their roles with Mitchell really beginning to shine after a string of successful performances in recent movies including Straight Outta Compton and Detroit. Gentlemen aside, the two leading ladies, Carey Mulligan and Mary J. Blige are each pretty fantastic and nearly steal the show even with the limited amount of time they have on screen. I also need to mention Jonathan Banks who is quite scary and repulsive as the extremely racist patriarch of the McAllan family. He makes it super easy to feel negative emotions about his character.

My one wish about this film is that I would love to see it in a movie theater rather than at home on Netflix. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and is just begging to be watched in a movie theater but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it on a smaller screen as well. Rachel Morrison, who has been behind the lens or movies like Fruitvale Station and Dope, should be commended for her efforts. Combining her visuals with Rees' powerful storytelling makes for quite the combination.

The Verdict:
Mudbound is a success on every level. If this is the type of product Netflix will be putting out in the future, then sign me up! Oh wait, I'm already signed up. Anyway, this is a truly great movie that excels in every area and has no fear while tackling some serious social issues, the kind of topics that are just as relevant today as they were 70 years ago. Highly recommended.

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