Movie Review – “Mudbound”

“Powerful! Easily the strongest ensemble cast we’ve seen thus far in 2017.”

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

Over the past several years, Amazon and Netflix have dramatically stepped up their own studio’s production and distribution of high quality motion picture films. In fact, by the second week of January, don’t be surprised to see both movie makers get several Academy Award nominations for best acting and one for best adapted screenplay. One such film guaranteed to garner a hard look by Oscar voters is Netflix’s “Mudbound”.

Based on Hillary Jordan’s novel by the same name, “Mudbound” takes viewers back to 1939 and race relations along the Mississippi Delta farming locale. Still deeply rooted in southern segregation at the time, the film depicts the growing hostilities formed between the white McAllan family and the black Jackson family. As each family sends a son off to war in Europe during World War II, the plot thickens with other hardships faced by the joining land owner and tenant farmer.

“Mudbound” tells a powerful story that will punch you in the stomach too many times to count. It emotionally illustrates the severe challenges faced by these neighboring farmlands. Examined the closest is how each family responds to flooded crops and serious injury & sickness sustained by loved ones while waiting for their sons to return from war. These devastating tests all promulgating the growing distrust between the families.

Phenomenal performances abound throughout this exceptional film. Easily the strongest ensemble cast we’ve seen thus far in 2017, expect to see Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell compete for best supporting actor nominations this awards season. Although both are critical components to this narrative as returning WWII service members, I give a slight preference to Hedlund’s headstrong role as Jamie McAllan. The always selective Hedlund, who turned down the part of Christian Grey in the 2015 “Fifty Shades of Grey” bondage film, acts as the film’s forceful voice of reason and compassionate soul.

This film’s ultimate success, however, can be traced back to superb female influences found on both sides of the camera. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Dee Rees directed and co-wrote this dramatic screenplay, giving audiences the most gripping story on race relations since 2013’s “12 Years a Slave”—which earned 3 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Aside from Rees’ astonishing work as director and screenwriter, two female stars of “Mudbound” deliver second-to-none matriarch performances. Mary J. Blige as devoted mother and wife Florence Jackson and Carey Mulligan as Laura, the wife of landowner Henry McAllan (and brother to Hedlund’s Jamie McAllan).

The combined greatness found in the acting, directing and script all make “Mudbound” and Netflix worthy of Oscar talk come March 4th.

Currently, the film is available to all Netflix subscribers on-line and in select theaters nationwide. Expect a wider release of “Mudbound” into additional theaters by later next month.

Grade: A+

“Mudbound” is rated R for brief language, some disturbing violence, and nudity. Its running time is 2 hours and 14 minutes.

© 2017, Patrick. All rights reserved.

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