Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan and Mary J. Blidge
Directed by: Dee Rees
Two men return home from fighting the Germans in WWII, one white and one black, to work on a farm in Mississippi. Together they have to deal with the reality of life after the war as they both struggle to adjust for different reasons, one being alcoholism and the other being racism.
If there ever was a movie that can be defined as a mixed bag. At times it’s so tense and harrowing to watch but then it also has a few tedious patches where nothing happens and the story seems to stall.
The first half of the movie introduces us to pretty much most of the central protagonists and their stories. We meet Henry who comes across as a smart business man, well dressed and educated who decides, once he’s married and had children, to buy a farm and put all of his money into making it a success. The transition to me seemed a little bizarre and not quite believable. He marries a highly educated woman who doesn’t seem to have any chances in life to do anything except for becoming a housewife and grind out her Mississippi existence. On Henry’s newly bought farm lives Hap, his black farmhand and his family. The racial tension between the two families is evident from the beginning especially with Henry’s father who is brutally cold towards Hap.
The second part of the movie is where the story really comes together and things start picking up. Both Henry’s brother Jamie and Hap’s son Ronsel both returning from fighting the Nazi’s in the war and having equally horrible experiences. Jamie resorts to alcohol to help with the pain and Ronsel becomes very withdrawn as overseas he was a sergeant who was respected and followed but back home he is hated by the white locals because of his skin colour. They find each other’s company to be rather consoling and become friends which creates a great deal of problems for Ronsel.
The story was told slowly but beautifully at the same time, and there were some great displays of acting from pretty much all of the main cast. Mary J. Blidge who isn’t renowned for her acting ability will take a lot of plaudits as her performance was stunning as well as being very surprising. Jason Clarke was a strange choice as Henry but as he showed in Lawless, his accent work is incredible. Mudbound also did brilliantly well at highlighting the racial tension that has plagued a large portion of American History and even its present.
This is a Netflix original production and it truly shows how big of a power Netflix is becoming within the world of cinema. Mudbound has been deservedly nominated for 4 Academy Awards across different aspects of its production including acting and cinematography.
All in all there are some superb aspects of this movie but the pacing was a little off and as mentioned previously the entire first hour had large portions of nothingness. If this one issue was resolved then Mudbound could’ve been a modern day classic.