“I went to fight for my country to come back and find it hadn’t changed a bit.” – Ronsel Jackson, played by Jason Mitchell, in Mudbound
Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song
Written and directed by Dee Rees, this movie is set in the very deep Mississippi Delta South during World War II. It’s about two families struggling to raise their children and survive on a working farm, one white and one black. It’s also about two men returning home after fighting in World War II and their struggles of adjusting to being back home and back into an environment of deep seeded racism in the Jim Crow South.
Some Additional Commentary
It should be noted that Dee Rees is the first African American woman to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. It should also be noted that Mary J Blige is the first person ever to be nominated an acting and original song category for the same film. Snaps for both of these ladies.
There are a lot of recognizable names in this one, but…Hello Mary J Blige! We know she can sing, but she took this role of Florence Jackson on with some gusto and was really fantastic. She plays a strong mother doing everything she can to help her family build a life in an unfavorable environment, while at the same time showing compassion to another mother, Laura, who is ill-prepared for life on a working farm and who is giving up on her husband’s failed venture that pulled her from a life of comfort. To balance both of those things so well in an emotional film was impressive.
The actors playing Jamie and Ronsel were really fantastic as well, but you have to give props to Jonathon Banks (Breaking Bad) who plays the role of Pappy. He really put it all out there and he makes Pappy the vile character you come to immediately hate with intensity from his first appearance on. I also have to acknowledge the actor who played the role of Hap. He was one of my favorite characters in the movie.
This is a really well balanced movie. It will make you cringe, it will make you angry, and it will challenge you. It’s dark, but sends a powerful message about social injustice. It also reflects on the struggles of returning home from war and how quickly you are back into a different reality, and in this case, sadly there was more dignity in war than the two men found at home. The world war II element adds great complexity to the story.
Bottom Line – It is so surprising to me that this movie didn’t pull Best Picture and Best Director nominations, among others it was left out of. I mean this didn’t beat out Phantom Thread…really?? I honestly don’t get it. This is an excellent movie with a tough subject matter, but a new approach to it with the added element of the world war II storyline. Mary J Blige is excellent in her role, and the original song she performs is stunning. Be aware that there are some horribly violent scenes in this emotional and captivating movie; that being said – I highly recommend it.