Racism and poverty: A muddy situation

Promotional image for 'Mudbound'

Promotional image for ‘Mudbound’

Promotional image for 'Mudbound'

Promotional image for ‘Mudbound’

‘Mudbound’ film review

By Ida Salmany, Contributor

 

4/5

 

Another modern period drama that has earned high reviews at Sundance has hit the screens, and it is well worth the two hours!

Based on Hillary Jordan’s novel of the same name, Mudbound is a compelling and absorbing film, with a stunning cast and a realistic depiction of racism, sexism, and poverty in the 1940s.

This film is here to make you feel uncomfortable. Full of suffering, the movie follows the lives of five characters in rural Mississippi during and after World War II. Dee Rees, the director, gives each character their own narrative voiceover, which makes the viewers see what they see and challenges the assumptions that viewers may have of race and gender.

From the very beginning, the film sets the stage for tension, as Laura McAllan (Carey Mulligan) describes the challenges she faces being married off to an insensitive and stubborn husband, Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke), and how moving to a large, desolate piece of muddy land has altered her life. Next, we are introduced to the Jacksons, an African-American family that is leasing parts of the McAllan’s farm and trying their best to live a good, happy life. Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J. Blige) have a constant struggle with money and dealing with Henry as their inconsiderate landlord, and on top of everything else, the Jacksons worry about their son Ronsel, who has gone to war.

This leads us to the two characters in the film presented as the leads: Two soldiers, Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) and Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund), who is Henry’s younger brother living with Henry’s family on the mud-ridden farm. Both are haunted by different things. Ronsel, who is a hero at war defending his country, comes home to Mississippi to see that even as a hero, he has to sit at the back of the bus and exit stores through the back door. He strikes up a friendship with Jamie, who is haunted by his experience at war, relying on his drinks to suppress his memories. Though they see the colour in each other, they find comfort in the wounds of one another. During their first encounter, they both plunge back into the horrors of war when a car backfires, leading them to bond because of their nightmares.

The performances in the film are incredible, with Mulligan raising her children in terrible conditions; Mary J. Blige, wonderfully stoic and powerful as Ronsel’s mother; Jason Mitchell, proud and defiant as Ronsel; and the under-appreciated Garrett Hedlund as Jamie. Cinematographer Rachel Morrison does a fantastic job capturing the beauty of colours in this film and having captivating scenery.

Mudbound has a marvellous cast and is tremendously acted out, especially Mitchell and Hedlund, who are able to make their unlikely friendship feel so real and meaningful, making the audience feel their pain, happiness, and sadness.

 

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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