Netflix’s “Mudbound” is a stunning cinematic achievement that can be viewed right from your couch at home.
It tells the story of two families before and after World War II. There is the McAllen family, Laura (Carey Mulligan), her husband Henry (Jason Clarke) and his brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund). Jamie goes off to serve in the war while Henry and Laura slog away at the family farm that is not giving them the life they want.
The Jacksons are African Americans who work on the McAllen farm. Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J. Blige) work to provide for their family and to one day have their own land. Their oldest son, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), goes off to fight in the war as well.
When Ronsel and Jamie return from war, their shared trauma creates a bond that grows into a friendship, but in 1940s Mississippi, friendship between blacks and whites is dangerous.
The film is flawless cinema — from the acting by a cast that gives raw, believable performances, to cinematography that dazzles with muddy landscapes, and editing to tie it all together without losing the audience.
“Mudbound” is based on a novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan, and the film adaptation feels strangely novel-like. This is partly due to the skillful way the movie weaves in characters’ varying perspectives through voice-over. Audiences get to see the different sides of the story, but hear what characters are thinking and feeling underneath the masks they wear.
All of this helps the film’s overall narrative. The plot grows, the characters have more depth and the acting is done with more insight into what’s really going on inside the characters’ minds.
Much could have gone wrong in the telling of multiple stories over multiple years while hitting on numerous themes of race, gender, war and family, but the film pulls it off and exceeds expectations.
There is talk that “Mudbound” will be an Oscar contender this year, and there would be something wrong with the world if it isn’t considered. “Mudbound” is a story so beautiful and masterfully told, it will stick with you.