- Director: Dee Rees
- Writer: Virgil Williams; Dee Rees
- Producer: Evan Arnold; Carl Effenson
Talk about being underwhelmed!!!
The page-turning-somewhat-trashy book has become a not [as it should have been] glued-to-the-screen melodrama...it's the first hour that's the problem, you can nip out, grab a coffee, read a newspaper, return and you've missed [practically] nothing. The first act is simply messy, muddy and monotonous...accompanied by a rather annoying [and unnecessary] narration.
Enter the two returning soldiers...out goes the narration...is this the same film!?! Things improve exponentially...but, their bromance-like relationship isn't exploited...in fact, it's possibly a little too understated. But, these kindred spirits from the opposite sides of the track have an affection. It could have been deeper...which would have made the final act even more gruelling.
And...gruelling it is. The abhorrent racism meted out by the KKK is climactically traumatic...Dee Rees finally finds her stride...directs with an assurance and an eye of anguish.
It really is an earth-shattering experience...so, perhaps, the slow-burn beginning, the somewhat reserved middle...all contributed [in their way] to this gut-wrenching climax
The production values are sky-high. The performances are credible - especially Mary J. Blige, unrecognisable and impressive. The à la mode natural lighting is...in many places, too dark. The writing needed a re-write, the film needed a drastic edit...but, that final act!!!
Not so underwhelmed now!
The friendship of two Second World War veterans ignites racial tension in Dee Rees’ majestic epic about two families in the Deep South. Pariah marked Rees as a filmmaker of uncompromising originality and vision; Mudbound retains that distinct voice within a complex narrative about what sets us apart, and perhaps more so, what we all share. Adapting Hillary Jordan’s novel, Rees weaves together multiple threads of two family histories: white farmers the McAllans and the Jacksons, black sharecroppers who lease a plot on the McAllans’ land. Though a genuine ensemble of consistently impressive performances, Laura’s (Carey Mulligan) story spurs the plot. With spinsterhood looming, despite being attracted to his debonair brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), Laura agrees to marry Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke), and he soon moves the family to the mud-caked Mississippi Delta.
Meanwhile, Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) and his wife Florence (a transformed Mary J Blige) struggle to make small gains sharecropping when the McAllans take their lease. As a post-war comradeship develops between Jamie and the Jacksons’ eldest son, distinguished war hero Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), tensions with bitterly racist McAllan patriarch, Pappy erupt into violence. Rees skilfully draws these stories together, reflecting on how bigotry and intolerance serves no one – a message with fresh relevance given the rise of an emboldened far right in America.