Signed up the 28/03/2017
Mudbound is set against the backdrop of World War ll. The film sees two families entertwine in Mississippi, Delta, as their lives are muddled together during and post-war. Through this film we get to witness the war through a family dymanic, which is made of two families from two racially divided groups.
It is a historical drama that feels more contemporary than it is a war confessional and simulator, and that's perhaps the most jarring, remarkable aspect of the film. I especially appreciate that a movie made in 2017, the fast-pacedness film has maintained in this decade alone, can be so gutsy as to tone down a bit and fold into itself for the better of the film. It is a confessional nonetheless, aided by chilling voiceovers coated in bitterness, brood and vengeance.
World-building is prioritised in this film so much that the setting itself takes a life of its own. The muddy, wasting farmlands displayed through acres of the haunting whispers of a racially charged community become violently compelling and spirit-breaking. The breathtaking cinematography wounds audiences further by accentuating just how jolting it must have been to live in such a lonely, wide and spoiling piece of land.
As an exploration of race and life, Mudbound is an outstanding presentation. It doesn't forcefully get into detail about any of its subplots, but does tremendously in engaging the audience in the lives of the characters, and the choices they make, rather. This makes their lived experiences–trauma, love, family life, ailment, depression, etc.–the audience's too.
This movie is a clear-eyed address of the age-old manifestation of a racial hierarchy where an isolated race insists that another race that's deemed lower know its place and abide by its laws (and abuse) so to be able to be cordial and co-exist–while this isolated race lives to gain from this othered race's hard-work and self-sacrifice. The sheer entitlement by the white folk is jerking, especially because the black family is well over bred to be terrified of the consequences of so much as pursing their lips at their self-proclaimed masters.
The violence is quiet and unexpectedly expected, which fuels the films passive, yet fiery tone. It's fascinating that the filmmakers of this movie could pull such an almost impossible element off so seamlessly; normalising the tension between the two families (races) so much that it is apparent that at anytime something really bad could happen, while at the same time not overly "telling" the hostility but rather "showing" it.
Mudbound is a reviting piece of art that is sure to inspire future films in mainstream, especially because it's by the rising streaming behemoth that is Netflix. Fearless, character-driven storytelling coupled with beautiful, compelling visuals, this movie comes highly recommended.
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