“… truly is a step-up from anything else Netflix has released.”
After all of the astounding praise that has been getting, last night I decided to watch Mudbound; and believe me when I say it lived up to every ounce of hype. Mudbound is a movie that takes place in the American south during World War II, and it follows two families who have this kind of feud going on between them. But that’s not really what Mudbound is about, because Mudbound isn’t really about anything. It’s one of those movies that just takes you back in time, making you live through experiences of the past; and it’s really effective.
Mudbound in my opinion marks a turning point for Netflix. Sure there have been good Netflix movies in the past, but to me Mudbound is the first masterpiece. Every single aspect about this movie is fucking perfect, and it really goes to show how much money Netflix has to throw around these days (I can imagine winning Mudbound must have cost a pretty penny). Now like I said Mudbound doesn’t really have one coherent story, it deals more with themes. In Mudbound we see the ramifications of war, the effects of racism, and the family dynamic of the 1940’s. Now this, when looking back on it, seems kind of all over the place, but believe me when I say that you don’t notice it one bit while you are watching Mudbound. The way that the story is handled in Mudbound is with the film switching to different characters’ perspectives, allowing them to speak directly to the audience via voiceover. This allows for more depth to the story, as well as for you to grow more attached to the characters. And what really sends this home in Mudbound are the performances. It’s not hyperbolic when I say that every single person in this movie fucking killed it. First of all you have Jason Clarke and Carey Mulligan playing the McAllan family, and this is where we spend most of our time early on. We get to see the dynamic between these two, and the struggles that they endure on a daily basis. We really grow attached to these characters, especially Laura (played by Mulligan). Representing the other family we have Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan who play the Jacksons; a black family who rents part of the land that the McAllans buy. Not only do we get to see the harsh working conditions that farming families had to endure with the Jacksons, but we also get to see the disdain for the McAllans because they just walk in and buy what the Jacksons have been working on for years. This adds a really interesting dynamic to the film, and it paints a very realistic picture of what racism looked like in everyday life. This is mainly the middle of the movie. Now during all of this we get to see flashes of the war, because each family has one member over there fighting the good fight. Both Garrett Hedlund (who plays Jamie McAllan) and Jason Mitchell (who plays Ronsel Jackson) do phenomenally in this portion of the movie. We get to see the horror that they witness in the war, and the performances do more than send that reality home. But the real meat of this movie starts when the pair return home from the war. See, up until this point I had liked the movie and understood why people were praising it, but I didn’t really get it until the climax. This is where the racist undertones of Mudbound take hold, and they fucking tear you apart inside. All of this culminates into a climax that got a legitimate reaction out of me, and really cemented why I think Mudbound might be the best thing Netflix has ever released. Also, I have to give a shout-out to Jonathan Banks who did a great job of making me hate his fucking guts throughout the course of this movie. I never knew that I could not love Mike from Breaking Bad, but here we are.
So in terms of the story, I really loved the way the movie was structured. The opening of the film is actually the ending, and then the entirety of the rest of the movie is one big flashback. We are introduced to these characters, and then we are taken back in time to see how they got to where they are. I found this to be pretty brilliant because it adds a layer of mystery to the film that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. I also found that Mudbound balanced tones rather well (despite sadness taking over most times), really making sure that we saw how shitty life could be, but also how beautiful it could be. I think it was these moments that made things like the climax hit even harder. I also liked how there were parallels drawn between home life and the war in a few scenes; this was very Godfather Part 2 and it fit surprisingly well. And I know it’s no new topic, but I appreciate the detail that Mudbound went into when discussing racism. It wasn’t even just the big things that stuck out to me, but even the looks on the faces of some background characters that weren’t even the focus of the scene. You really got the feel of what it would be like (though I guarantee this isn’t even the half of it) in those times, and I still think it is important for audiences today to see that. And last of all, Mudbound looked fucking stunning. I had never heard of Dee Rees before, but holy shit can she direct. The way that Mudbound managed to capture how vast and empty the farmlands were, while still making them intimate and gripping was amazing. You really got a feel for what these characters were going through, and as a bonus the film looked stunning while it happened.
Overall Mudbound is a movie that you have to see. Despite it not having much of a focus, it was gripping from start to finish. The performances were amazing, the stories told were heartbreaking, and it looked incredible. Mudbound truly is a step-up from anything else Netflix has released.
I give Mudbound an A