Mudbound (2017)

mudbound poster 2017 movie netflix
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, good cast, strong story

Hard to watch because you know it isn't going to end well for the characters

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Mudbound

Studio:   Elevated Films

Genre(s):   Drama

Release Date(s):   January 21, 2017 (Sundance Film Festival)/November 17, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating:   R

mudbound jamie ronsel truck jason mitchell garrett hedlund

Nope…this isn’t going to end well…

Henry McAllen (Jason Clarke) finds himself in a place h never expected to be.  Living with sharecroppers with his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), and racist father (Jonathan Banks) in Marietta, Mississippi after his grand plans for a farm fall through.  Nearby the family of Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) and his wife Florence (Mary J. Blige) are sharecroppers trying to make due with the hard land they have received while walking the fine line of being African-American in the South…and forming a strange bond with the McAllen family.  When Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and Hap’s son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) return home from World War II, both young men find challenges of coming home…but surviving in the South could be harder than Jamie and Ronsel ever imagined.

mudbound mary j blige

She’s all in…

Directed by Dee Rees (who co-wrote the screenplay with Virgil Williams), Mudbound adapts the 2008 novel by Hillary Jordan.  The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2017 and was acquired by Netflix where it was released in November 2017.  The film was received with critical acclaim and received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Blige), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Song (“Mighty River”) which was also written by Blige.

It took a long time for me to watch Mudbound…actually watch it.  I started the movie and you could tell that this was one of those movies that isn’t going to end well for the characters and people in the movie.  In that sense, watching Mudbound is torture because the ending is going to hurt…but the movie is strong.

mudbound pappy ku klux klan jonathan banks

Just pull the trigger…

The plot takes a rather odd path.  It seems like it is going to be about the brother Henry and the sharecropper Hap, but the movie really comes down to the brother Jamie and the son Ronsel.  They are the characters who are outsiders and not wrapped up in the culture and differences in the South because they have shared a common bond.  For Jamie it destroys him and for Ronsel it opens his eyes.  He finds freedom he has never had…and both pay for it in horrible ways which intertwine the families even more…but you can see it coming a mile away even if the characters can’t (you kind of just want to warn them).

The cast is strong on all fronts.  Much of the movie’s story is primarily told through voice over which helps give it that slow pace.  It is really an ensemble cast with the families rather balanced on the storytelling side though Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell are featured heavily in the second half.  Mary J. Blige gets a lot of the recognition (rightfully so as the dutiful mother), but it is hard pressed to find a weak link.  It is easy to play a despicable character but Jonathan Banks does it so convincingly.

mudbound farming cinematography


The movie also looks good.  The land and toils of the characters tie together and the place just looks miserable.  Thematically you question how anything can grow in the mud and the muck of the horrible land, but by the end of the movie there is a little hope of a crop and hope for the characters despite what they’ve gone through.

Mudbound is not an easy movie, but it is also not a “fun” movie to watch as a result.  The movie has lots of layers and as a result is something you might want to watch twice…though it feels like watching it once is tough enough.  Mudbound maybe should have even received some more recognition, but it continues to raise the question of streaming movies vs. theater movies and if there is really a difference…or should there be if the movie is good?

Related Links:

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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