Tuesday, November 28, 2017

No Joy in 'Mudbound': Powerful Performances Drive a Bleak Tale to a Devastating Finish

Posted By on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 1:17 PM

Director and co-screenwriter Dee Rees paints a bleak picture of post WWII Mississippi in this performance powerhouse that showcases the talents of Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke and, most notably, Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton).

After the war, a traumatized Jamie McAllan (Hedlund) returns home to stay on a farm with his brother Henry (Clarke) and wife Laura (Mulligan). Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) also returns to the farm but, while both men were regarded as heroes overseas, their return is fraught with alcohol abuse for Jamie and rampant racism from town folks towards African American Ronsel.

Henry and Laura have problems of their own dealing with the troubled Jamie and Henry’s hateful father, Pappy (a sinister Jonathan Banks). This is one of those movies that you know won’t end well, and while Rees allows for occasional moments of relief, it is a mostly somber affair with a devastating finish. Mitchell continues to emerge as one of his generation’s best actors, while Hedlund does perhaps his best work to date. Both actors put full body and soul into their roles, and they create characters that definitely leave a mark.

The always reliable Mulligan is great as the wife forced to live out her life on a muddy, flooded farm in order to appease her dopey husband. Clarke paints Henry as a man of little commitments and quiet reserve, the kind of guy you can’t depend upon in a fight. The movie is packed with stellar acting, and Rees does a solid job with the technical elements.

Streaming on Netflix during a limited theatrical run.

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