November 17, 2017

R: November 17th, 2017 | R: 134 minutes | R: R

As we continue to face ubiquitous racism on a day-to-day basis, here in 2017, it's pretty jarring to see a film that addresses it head-on and realize that -- while slavery was abolished so long ago -- we haven't progressed as much as we'd like to think.

Mudbound is the story of a well-read, firey young lady by the name of Laura (Carey Mulligan). Shortly after she meets the man who would become her husband, Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke), his brother, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) is drafted as a fighter pilot to fly in WWII.

Henry is the type of husband that -- here in 2017 -- would likely sleep on the sofa pretty often. Back in the Depression Era, a good man was -- I guess -- even harder to find, and women were staunch believers in the "stand by your man" principle. All of that said, Henry, in bed one night, casually drops into conversation that he's uprooting their family and moving to a house on the farm he purchased.

I admire Laura for her restraint in not smothering him in the night.
Piling the kids in the car, along with Henry's massively bigoted father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks), they leave behind their happy home for a new life. Surprise surprise when Henry, the savvy business man he is, finds out he was swindled on the deal and the new home they're headed for is already inhabited by a man who I would liberally describe as unfriendly.

Fortunately, there's a house -- er, a shack -- on the farm that they can stay in. This place can best be described as an oozing hellscape.
Not far from there, in another, smaller home, are the Jacksons. Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J. Blige) -- along with their children -- work on the McAllans' farm, often going above and beyond the call of duty. They, too, are awaiting the safe return of a loved one -- their son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) -- to safely return from the nightmare of war.

When the day finally arrives that these men come marching home, their reception is lackluster at best, and hostile at worst. Finding camaraderie in their time spent in battle, Ronsel Jackson and Jamie McAllen strike up an unheard of friendship at the dismay of everyone in town, but especially, Pappy.
Their bond will be tested in an excruciating fashion before it's all said and done.

Mudbound is extraordinarily well done. In a time when our already shaky foundation as a country is crumbling atop a crust of rampant nationalism, this is a film that needs to be seen. Not only is it and incredible story, but it speaks to a three different generations -- each of which has their own experience with race riots.

Months ago, Nazis marched through Charlottesville, Virginia and the current "president" defended them. It's an ongoing problem and movies like Mudbound are profoundly deep statements of the evil that still lurks in broad daylight.

If you disagree, consider this -- Jordan Peele's Get Out is nominated for a Golden Globe for best Comedy. This plight is not satirical. Mudbound is available for streaming on Netflix November 17th.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Katie Katie (Contributor) is a cinephile and Chicago native who has been reviewing film for nearly a decade. Her heroes include Roger Ebert and Jay Sherman -- it stinks!
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