Mudbound

Mudbound ★★★★

Love Rees’s egalitarian approach to POV, placing approximately half a dozen characters on an equal narrative footing—to the point of sidelining the film’s biggest stars for long stretches of time—which usually screams “adapted from a novel” but in this context feels like an honest acknowledgement of the symbiotic relationship between the McAllan and Jackson clans (I don’t often get excited by the prospective of voice over but I shot upright around the time I noticed the film jumping from its second to its third narrator). Takes a while for the full nature of the story to come into focus; for about an hour the film feels like one of those earnest depictions of hardscrabble, poor people (with the formerly suburban-based white family plummeting in status while the black family working on their land on ascension enough that they’re basically meeting at the middle) with the respective patriarchs and matriarchs trying to reconcile their roles in 1940’s Mississippi alongside the urge to coexist with your neighbor. Racially motivated transgressions so subtle (i.e. Clarke insisting that Rob Morgan’s injured sharecropper rent his mule to help bring in the harvest on time but demanding a vig) I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t see where this was going vis-à-vis Jonathan Banks’s character* which arguably renders the turn this takes all the more unsettling. Deftly switches between empathetic and horrifying as well as it weaves narrative stands. Glad Netflix has good taste in material just wish they had any sense of how to release and promote this.

*The character is so broadly conceived and executed I choose to believe I was just blocking out his racist curmudgeon routine as a courtesy to an actor I otherwise admire.