Grade A

 

An engrossing tale filled with tragedy and hope, “Mudbound” takes us back to the mid-1940s Mississippi, where two families (one white, one black) struggle to make a living at farm work.  The black family is at a disadvantage because they are poor; and the color of their skin automatically makes them targets for many angry, prejudiced, white males of the South.  But hope blossoms everywhere, and it comes in the form of two men who come back to Mississippi after World War II is over.

Jason Mitchell plays one of the sons of the black farming family; and Garrett Hedlund plays the brother of the white, farming family patriarch.  Both have seen the grotesque nature of combat, and both have experienced a bigger part of the world — changes that will have the power to bridge the huge gap between white and black, but can also destroy both men and their families.  Customs and certain ways of thinking of an entire region doesn’t easily bend or break to the dreams of a few people.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Mudbound” is the scene when **SPOILER ALERT** Hedlund tries to rescue Mitchell from the KKK.  It is a brutal, indelible part of the story that begs the question “Where does all this hate come from?”

“Mudbound” takes its time to tell its story in the first act, laying the groundwork for what is to come next.  Many scenes are somewhat gothic in nature; and the transitions from one scene to the next can sometimes be jarring and may be construed as incompetent editing by those who are not paying attention.  But to those who give this movie their complete attention, they will see the subtle connections, and appreciate the power in the quieter moments.

— M