“Mudbound” is an Absorbing Drama

One of this year’s most acclaimed movies from Sundance and a film that is generating Oscar buzz is now available on Netflix while enjoying a limited theatrical release. Dee Rees’s Mudbound (A) is a modern American masterpiece centering on a black and white family with intertwining destinies in and around the era of WWII. Shared tenants on a cotton farm on the Mississippi delta, the families are swept up in an engrossing drama that plays out with striking effect. Rees’s film addresses deeds both physical and metaphorical that get celebrated or punished as families struggle to live together and rise above the sinking, shifting soil under their feet. Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund play two men who go off to war in Europe and return to the farm, only to find that much of the progress they witnessed as liberators abroad has not made a budge in their homeland. Mitchell and Hedlund are superb, and their central friendship is one of many intriguing relationships on display in this sprawling ensemble. Carey Mulligan and Mary J. Blige are among the standouts as family members coping with the evil that men do. Handsomely produced with lush period detail and evocative themes of a bygone era, Rees’s work based on Hillary Jordan’s novel is resonant and remarkable. Voice-overs from each of the characters add a poetic touch to the film’s propulsive series of events. Tamar-Kali Brown’s music underscores the action beautifully. If this film is waiting in your smart TV queue, push the button.

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