Rated R
134 Minutes
Released November 17

At Sundance 2017, Mudbound received a well-deserved standing ovation.

This is the third full-length feature film from writer/director Dee Rees (Bessie, Pariah).

With this film Rees has created a symphony of rich visual and emotional notes behind a spellbinding story set in the American South of the mid 20th Century.

The movie delves into the sociological issues of the Mississippi Delta in the mid 20th Century, in the style of “Grapes of Wrath.”

The film begins with a dramatic scene teeming with mystery and questions. The thread of the narrative is picked up by Carey Mulligan’s character “Laura” who tells the story.

Through the movie we are taken back to the beginning of the tale and then brought full circle back to that opening scene.
Along the way beautifully drawn characters play out their stories against the vividly depicted historical backdrop of that time period.

The cinematography by Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, Dope) is breathtaking. She shows the beauty and stark loneliness of the area. The rain and the mud become characters.

There are close-up glimpses of farm life at that time that pull you into the narrative: a drowned rat, the Saturday bath, the rutted dirt road – all pull you into the environment without taking away from the balance and the rhythm of the film.
The women are the glue that holds everyone together.

They safeguard the secrets, keep the evil at bay and soften the bitter blows wrought by the inhuman things humans can do to one another.

Carey Mulligan as the shy and unassuming “Laura McAllen” carries the story forward on her shoulders, embodying a sympathetic role without detracting from the other characters, whose dramatic and intriguing stories circle around hers.

Garrett Hedlund as “Jamie McAllen” is a wonderful intense character actor disguised by a pretty face. He provides a beautifully sensitive portrait of a complex and flawed character.

He is someone to watch. Jason Mitchell plays “Ronsel Jackson” in a realistic and heartfelt portrayal of a young man whose life is turned upside down by WWII, in both negative and positive ways.

Mary J. Blige gives a spectacular performance as “Florence Jackson.” This great musician, whose past roles as an actress include only a couple of small appearances on TV in roles like “Hair Stylist #1” in “How to Get Away with Murder,” is a natural.

She also wrote and performs one of the songs on the sound track. Rob Morgan as “Hap Jackson” is also fascinating to watch. The whole ensemble in this movie is on the same page emotionally and rhythmically, with many outstanding performances.

The work of the ensemble as a whole is so in sync that they seem to form one cohesive unit in telling the story.

Mudbound is a straight on look into part of the historical experience in our country that most of us find difficult to acknowledge, no matter what our ethnicity. Visions of the movie will recur in your memory long after you have seen it.

You will feel as if you have lived the story yourself. That’s when you know the director has succeeded in truly creating a consummate work of art. In my opinion this is another of the greatest films of 2017.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. For previously published reviews see