The more things change…the more they stay the same…
Hillary Jordan;s prize-winning 2008 novel brought to the big screen will evoke emotions I am sorry to admit still resonate in the America of 2017. The post WWII-set Mudbound unearths jealousies, family tension and the ever-present racism found in both the era and the locale (the Mississippi Delta).
Director Dee Rees (Pariah, Bessie) has assembled one of the strongest ensemble casts I have seen in quite some time in the form of Oscar Nominee Carey Mulligan (Laura), Mary J. Blige (Florence), Jonathan Banks (Pappy), Garrett Hedlund (Jaime), Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) and Jason Clarke (Henry).
Focusing on the story of two sharecropping families and their soldier sons, who have returned from fighting a war abroad to return to America to fight a whole new war…racism.
As Jaime, Garrett Hedlund exudes a charming sex-appeal reminiscent of a young Robert Redford from The Way We Were. Whenever he is on-screen it is sheer magic time. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Jonathan Banks as Pappy. He is so good a t being a racist, despicable good ol’ boy, that it literally makes one want to reach into the screen to slap the taste out of his mouth.
But, it is the understated performances of Jason Mitchell as Ronsell, Carey Mulligan as Laura, Mary J. Blige as Florence and Rob Morgan as Hap that remind you that there is more humanity, pain and longing given with one look to make a performance strong, solid and memorable on multiple counts.
Shot in 21 days, overseas and in New Orleans, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and nails the look of the era to perfection. It literally takes us from The Great Gatsby to The Grapes of Wrath in one fell swoop. Let’s not forget the real star of the film…the mud. As an audience, we watch it swallow shoes and people like The Blob. But, being Mudbound can also be a metaphor for where the human body goes once it’s time in this realm is done.
This film is hard to watch for numerous reasons, but it is essential to view. Why? It reminds us that at the end of the day, no matter what color we are everyone is Mud – Bound.
Produced by Netflix, Mudbound can be streamed via Netflix as of November 17th.