By: Oberst von Berauscht –
In the Deep South during the 1940s two families live and work with each other on the same farmland. The Jacksons are tenant farmers working for their rent, putting aside whatever they can with hopes of a better future. The McAllan family owns the land, facing their own personal struggles. The McAllans are only just a bit better off than the Jacksons, as hard times press down on both families. War breaks out in Europe, and each family sends one of their own to fight, but when Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) return, both find it difficult to readjust to their “place” at home. Jamie strikes up a friendship with Ronsel, finding more in common with a fellow veteran than anyone in his family.
Choice of hats for instance…
Director Dee Rees crafted a story of epic quality, exploring the internal struggles of its many characters. Their hopes and dreams of a better life come into conflict when reality looms. The chief conflict of the film develops as a result of the friendship between Ronsel and Jamie, as their cross-racial friendship clashes with the established social pecking order. The turmoil of the war in Europe reverberates through every moment in their lives, and their families lack the experiences necessary to understand what each was going through.
That’s not to say that $&%# at home was all roses and happiness…
On the surface Mudbound might be seen as simply another portrayal of racism in the rural south during the 1940s, however this is one ingredient in a complex character story that explores a circular nature of economic and cultural repression. The McAllan family are landowners, but only just. Their financial situation requires them to take on a tenant family just to make ends meet. The Jacksons want desperately to better their situation with land ownership a dream. Their agreement with the McAllans is designed to keep them from being able to put much aside, and should anything happen to one family member, they risk falling perilously deeper into debt. Ironically, the more pressure the McAllan families place on the Jacksons, they are in a worse position themselves. The interplay between the McAllan and Jackson family, and the inner-monologues held by its principle characters make for moving self reflective moments that are equally as relevant now as ever.
It is a shame this film didn’t get a significant theatrical release, as the cinematography is spectacular and really deserves a bigger screen for best viewing. There is a Southern Gothic visual palate which sets the earthy tone of the story with gloomy eyes. Strangely, the colors open up and brighten in scenes taking place overseas in Europe. Despite the trauma endured by Jamie and Ronsel, both found more of a sense of moral certainty in the fog of war than the unforgiving fury of the Jim Crow South.
Mudbound is one of the year’s best films, and one of the best recent films to use historical racial discrimination to draw comparisons with modern tribulations.
Mudbound (2017) Movie Review
Take a Drink: for casual racism
Take a Drink: for bible quoting
Take a Drink: when any character drinks
Do a Shot: for flashbacks