Mudbound Screen 87 of 15 reviews

Mudbound

2017

Mudbound Poster
  • MUDBOUND, a powerfully crafted historical epic from director Dee Rees, may be a period piece, but when we look into it we Americans should see a mirror of ourselves—our own troubled times, our violence, our bonds and betrayals. Rees, who co-wrote the screenplay with Virgil Williams, has created a complex and personal adaptation of Hillary Jordan's shattering 2008 novel.

  • Watching a movie in which all the players are perfectly in concert is its own special pleasure, and that’s the case with Dee Rees’ Mudbound. Each actor here — in a cast that includes Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan — is attuned to the specific gifts of the others. Together, they’re a reminder that actors’ key tools are the ability to listen and see, and not just react.

  • This is a rich and textured portrait of two families. It’s a film with six lead characters. Rees keeps that multiple POV attitude afloat in ways that deeply enhance the experience of watching the film. For the last half hour, I thought my heart would explode. This is one you will not want to miss.

  • Dee Rees’s adaptation is “novelistic” in the best sense, meaning that it propels itself forward at a brisk enough, chapter-like clip to incorporate all of its various strands and events, but that it manages to take its time, allowing the viewer to feel immersed in era and place, to settle in with the characters as they go about their daily routines.

  • The simmering rage felt toward Ronsel sets up a nightmarish climax that momentarily edges Mudbound into the kind of grotesque exploitation that the filmmakers had so expertly avoided up to this point. Yet the film manages to reconcile its rupture of horrific violence with its larger sense of Faulknerian despair over the insurmountable trap of social conditioning that cannot be dismantled even by an apocalyptic war that seemed to wipe out everything else.

  • It's thrillingly ambitious and complex, and features daring experimental flourishes, including a multicharacter narration that, while initially a touch overbearing, ultimately lends the film an apposite epistolary quality—repressed characters who are physically or emotionally adrift from their families are given voice, to powerful dramatic effect.

  • Rees has made a film that is rich and historically accurate in detailing daily life and social dynamics in a virulently racist failed economy. The standouts in a terrific ensemble cast are Carey Mulligan and Mary J. Blige as the mothers who bond out of need and empathy for each other’s struggles, and Garrett Hedlund as Mulligan’s brother-in-law and Jason Mitchell as Blige’s son... Rees’s directorial control is evident in both intimate scenes and big action sequences.

  • Sweeping and thrillingly ambitious, this generational drama tells two parallel stories, those of a black family and of the white family that owns the land on which they all live, work and struggle. The excellent cast includes Carey Mulligan, whose character marries into the white family, led by a racist patriarch. The movie’s radicalness is that it gives equal time to each family dynamically putting them into play to create a story told in black, white and deepest red.

  • The performances are strong across the board, and crescendo to a stomach-churning climax that howls with the horrors that lurk in humanity. Amidst the masterful storytelling of Mudbound, one of the most powerful punches is that this is not a period drama, in the sense that the fear and privilege linger on, and the violence has never stopped.

  • Do not to mistake these decisions and techniques as mistakes or flaws. Try to not be put off by them. Instead, try to appreciate their function. Rees is fully aware of the story she is trying to tell and the way she wants to tell it. These non-traditional, sometimes even radical narrative choices serve as building blocks.

  • Though not quite as huge, Mudbound at times reminded me of 1900, with its tale of two men on opposite sides of the class struggle and its depiction of landowners who imagine themselves fair-minded and good but prove feckless in the face of absolute evil. Like Bertolucci’s film, Mudbound finds a simmering regret beneath a breathless narrative filled with melodrama and violence. And its vision of a world where class, cowardice, and extremism circumscribe our common humanity is devastating.

  • What makes a movie slow isn’t the pace of its physical action but the speed of its ideas, and what weighs down the depiction of the impassioned events of “Mudbound” is their merely illustrative function. Strangely, the movie plays like an extended, dully methodical exposition that serves solely to reach its shattering climax.

  • It’s an ambitious and admirable effort at a message of unity by Rees, but the structural juggling act spreads things too thin, forcing overlapping storylines into small, narratively pat chunks. The easy, familiar narrative beats, culminating in a melodramatic and predictable conclusion (one that loses its impact by Rees using the tired device of opening her film with a flash-forward), conflict with the attempt to cover such complex thematic ground.

  • A well-directed instance of Southern gothic, but there is nothing new there to make the spectators reflect more deeply about race relationships in the US. Sundance audiences know that racism is bad; the others won’t see the film. Besides, both novelist and screenwriters seem to construct “Europe” as a utopian place and to underplay the sore existence of racism there. A German woman with a black child in the ruins of Germany after WWII would have had a much tougher time!

  • Positioning itself as an epic of differing perspectives and histories, the film seems to imply a more ambitious version of itself. But Mudbound chugs along without fuss or complication. The characters are sculpted in broad strokes that ratify a universally affirming message, boiling down to a notion of love and sacrifice which next to no one will disagree with.

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