Mudbound: LFF Film Review

I had heard rave reviews about Mudbound following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, so I had to check it out when it came to LFF, and it is certainly worth a watch performance-wise.

It is the mid-1940s, and Laura (Carey Mulligan) has moved from Memphis to the Mississippi Delta with her husband Henry (Jason Clarke) and their two daughters so he can run a cotton farm. They live in a shack with no electricity or running water and his racist father Pappy (Jonathan Banks), and the Jacksons – lead by Florence (Mary J. Blige) and Hap (Rob Morgan) – also live on the farm and work for them. Tensions between them worsen when Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) return from the Second World War and become friends over their mutual experiences.

The film takes a long time to get going because it shifts perspectives a lot – which are signified by different voiceovers – and jumps from past to present so there is no real flow and it doesn’t really get into the swing of things until Ronsel and Jamie return home. I had no idea where it was going, but I was conscious of the fact that a lot of time had passed without anything really happening and without me getting fully immersed in the story.

That was until the last 30-45 minutes, when the film goes ‘BAM!’ and basically punches you in the gut. You start to figure out where it is going, you feel a sense of foreboding and I actually said ‘oh no’ out loud once. What happens next is brutal, horrific and violent, and so at odds with the meandering story that came before. You just don’t expect it to be so full-on and that’s what makes it so powerful. You become so, so angry.

The acting is excellent and everybody is on top form. Mulligan is fantastic always, but Blige and Mitchell stand out too. I just had a slight problem understanding what people were saying sometimes as some of their speech was mumbled, which is difficult to understand with a Deep South accent!

Mudbound is 2 hours and 14 minutes and feel that long. It packs an emotional punch, but it does require patience before you get there. I recommend you stick it out though, because the pay-off is so worth it.

Seen as part of the 61st BFI London Film Festival. Mudbound will be released on Netflix on 17 November. 

SEE ALSO: Pictures of Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell at the LFF premiere

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