I went into Mudbound completely blind. I had no idea what the story line was. I was intrigued because it seems like it’s been marked down to be the token black movie to receive accolades in the upcoming award season. There’s also heavy talk on Mary J Blige being nominated and I had to see it.
The movie can be described as two families, who in a perfect world would probably find some similarities and relate to each other except for one thing that distinguishes them greatly – their skin color. The movie provides us voice overs and points of views from six of the characters and we are first introduced to Laura (Carey Mulligan) who is a college educated 31 year old virgin living with her parents when she meets and marries Henry (Jason Clarke) to escape her parents house. Henry wakes up one day and without discussing with his wife, decides he wants to be a farmer and move to Mississippi. And move they did.
The families intertwine as Florence Jackson becomes the maid for Laura and Hap Jackson works as a farm hand for Henry. The Jacksons plan is to make money, pay of debt and aim for freedom while all the while praying for a safe return for their son. Henry’s racist father (Jonathan Banks) is also in the house hurling racist insults when he can.
Set about when WWII begins, the McAllans (white family) and the Jacksons (black family) are living in the same area on a muddy farm in Mississippi after the McAllans get swindled out of their house. Both families have sent a family member off to the war. The McAllans sent Jamie (Garret Hedlund), the more exciting, charming brother and The Jacksons (Mary J Blige and Rob Morgan) send their son, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell – Eazy E on Straight Outta Compton). The two men return and the story delves into one of PTSD, racism and family dysfunction.
I have to be honest. Due to the climate in the world now, watching any kind of injustice just weighs me down and gets me all riled up inside. The entire time watching the movie, my heart was in my mouth just waiting for the inevitable something horrible to happen and I was tense the entire movie. But I give kudos to the director, Dee Rees who did a good job of truly showing the hearts (no matter how good or bad) of every characters and making you feel exactly what it is they are feeling through the screen. This is just Rees’s second feature after her debut, Pariah.
Contrary to what the critics said, I don’t think Mary J Blige did an outstanding job as Florence. I think she was good enough and yes she did come across as a burdened matriarch but I have always thought Mary J Blige never seems relaxed so I think it just happened to work for this character. I was impressed by the rest of the cast and they all made for a good ensemble.
I wouldn’t say the movie was a great movie but it’s a good watch – more for its story telling. Don’t watch it if you are having a good day cuz it’ll ruin it.