Mudbound is a Netflix original film that came out, heard good things, then I still didn’t watch it for over a month.
But I did see it before it was nominated for a few Oscars, even if you don’t believe me due to when the review came out. In fact, Mudbound has a bit of Oscar history going behind it.
You see, Mary J. Blige was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for this movie. She is also nominated for Best Song for this same movie. First time a single person has been nominated for an acting and song category.
But that is not all! Rachel Morrison has an even bigger first. She is the cinematographer, and is the first ever female cinematographer to be nominated for this award. Ever. In 90 years. Insane!
Not as insane as those green items.
Mudbound tells the story of two families, living in the south and struggling to survive. Yes, one is white and one is black.
So let’s talk about the Jackson family first. Hap (Rob Morgan) and his wife Florence (Mary J. Blige) are raising their family in a small building as tenant farmers on land. They have dreams of really owning land in the future. Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), their oldest, joins the army during World War II and becomes a tank commander, which is a sexy title on a business card.
The McAllan family moved down to Marietta to buy a farm, featuring Henry (Jason Clarke) and his pregnant wife Laura (Carey Mulligan). They also bring Henry’s dad (Jonathan Banks), who is old, and therefore really racist. They don’t have the best of a time down there, as some plans fell through, but they make it work and develop a working relationship with the Jackson family. Also Henry has a brother, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), who also went to the war, but to fly a plane, pew pew pew.
Either way, the majority of the movie is about these two families, their connections, and their built tensions. Also featuring Kerry Cahill.
Sure that’s a large wad of cash, but also, he is white and probably evil.
Mudbound ends up being a relatively beautiful movie, set in a really ugly time. I wasn’t a fan of the old timey filters, I never am. Too many browns, greys, washed out feeling on certain scenes. But the camera was still set up excellent, giving some powerful imagery in normally non powerful scenes, so I find the nomination completely warranted.
The biggest issues with Mudbound come from the script. It takes for ever to really feel like what you are watching matters. We have generally two separate family stories that are obviously interacting, along with the two son stories over in the war. But for everyone to get done, for the stories to finally reach the point it was trying to make, it takes too long. The payoff doesn’t just feel good enough for feeling pointless for that much time.
The only characters that really felt enjoyable were the Jackson family. Laura was set up to be a main character, but she just did absolutely nothing for me. I still enjoyed where certain characters ended up at the end, happy for them, despite their struggles. I just wish that it had a bit more that mattered early on to keep my attention the whole film.