Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Mudbound (2017)

Directed by Dee Rees

Starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks


A really well-made, authentic period piece that just feels right.

Mostly steady camera and minimalist music and score allow us to concentrate on the characters and story. Pacing is perfect, editing is clean. It’s beautifully shot, with loving detail paid to the costumes and smaller sets, though I feel like the aerial combat scene may have done well with a wide shot or two. Genius story construction, with parallel stories of white and black at home and at war. The bookend scenes effectively reveal that so much story with so many important details has transpired over the course of the film.

Carefully crafted scenes do a great job capturing the tension of slaves and owners like few other movies have. Most slavery movies feature overt hatred and abuse, but here we have a lot of unique situations and nuanced relationships that I have never seen explored in a film before.

Casting was wonderful, and all the actors are entirely believable with their period performances. Dialogue and accents are authentic, with Clarke spending extra time to completely mask his native Australian. His hobble was perfect. Hedlund is fantastic with a charming Val-Kilmer-as-Doc-Holliday thing going on. Who knew Banks had acting chops like this? As great as the ensemble cast is, I hope the lack of obvious leading roles doesn’t hurt the film’s chances of getting an Oscar.

This Dee Rees is worth keeping an eye on. And this is real quality from Netflix. If they’re going to continue churning out movies this good, they’re going to become a real force.

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