Mudbound (2017)

I wasn't really planning on watching Mudbound. I don't know why since I didn't know a thing about it but I just didn't care for it. Then I saw it popping up in some best of 2017 lists, Mary J. Blige even got an Oscar nomination for it, so I decided to watch it. 

The film tells the story of two families --one white, one black-- living in World War II Mississippi. The McAllans, headed by Henry (Jason Clarke) and his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), buys a farm but due to a mistake, they end in the farm instead of the landowner's house. The Jacksons, headed by Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J. Blige), live and work on the farm. Their lives will intersect as the story moves forward, and will take a dramatic turn as Henry's brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and Hap's son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) return home after the end of the war.

Now, if you are the kind of person who loves a lot of plot development, you should probably stay away from this one because there's none in the first hour or so of the movie. It's impossible to know in which direction Dee Rees's movie is heading. What the film does instead is focusing on developing and exploring its characters, making you empathise with them and giving you a reason to care about them. Which is indeed very important for what happens next. This is what makes the final scenes so much powerful.

However, the pace is very slow and some scenes are definitely too long and don't add anything neither to the story nor to the characters, and the first half ended up boring me a little. I was interested and invested in the characters and yet I was bored. Also, Rees uses Terence Malick-like voiceovers to let us know what the characters are thinking, how they are feeling and it didn't really work for me. The narration is poetic and beautiful but they explain too much. 

Other than that, I have no complaints about Mudbound. The film does a wonderful job depicting the ugly truth in southern states of the United States not centuries ago, but during and after WWII. This film heavily focuses on institutionalized racism in 1940s Mississippi (unfortunately, it still exists in the States, and it's developing in my country, Italy, as well), and it's brutally honest. It does not sugarcoat anything. The dread and pain of the black family are palpable since the very beginning and it makes for a very uncomfortable and difficult watch. This movie will disturb you, will make you angry and will make you sad.

But without the cast, Mudbound would be half of the film it is. Carey Mulligan gives a strong and convincing performance as Laura, a young woman who got married to escape from her dull family and life but is now frustrated for the state of her current life. Mary J. Blige is sublime and gives a very touching performance as Florence, a proud and caring mother. Garrett Hedlund gives a great performance as well as Jaime, the white veteran dealing with PTSD with alcohol, and Jason Mitchell is equally good as Ronsel, the black veteran who has to deal with racism at home after having fought the Nazis. Hedlund and Mitchell are both very charming and they have a great chemistry as well. Jason Clarke, Rob Morgan and Jonathan Banks also give good performances.

At last but not least, there's the outstanding song Mighty River that I'm afraid as no chances to win against The Greatest Showman's This Is Me. 


  1. I really liked this. The cast was mostly great and Dee Rees is a wonderful director. The only complaint I really had was the narration, which was a bit hard to get used to when it kept switching.

    1. I'm glad you liked it too. By the way I really need to watch the other stuff she made.

  2. I loved the performances in this one, and overall too, I thought it was great. It deserved to take Darkest Hour's place for BP, but then I guess so did others, and anyway they didn't fill all the spots. I guess there wasn't enough hype, I certainly didn't plan on watching it either before people saying it's good and Blige getting the nom.

    1. I know right, I'm still wondering why they nominated Darkest Hour for BP.