As more and more modern-era films about wartime continue to focus on the human side of conflict and what it does to a soldier’s psyche over time, Dee Rees’ Mudbound takes a crucial long view of how the burdens of the world often don’t stop with the end of enlistment. The Pariah director’s WWII story of racism, PTSD, and generational struggle in rural Mississippi spends much of its runtime examining, at harrowing length, the ways in which some soldiers returned home to the same hostility they left, even as heroes.
Mudbound focuses on those tragic stories as they impacted life in the American South during the war. It’s a sweeping approach to the war drama, concerned as much with the culture surrounding war as war itself. Among a terrific ensemble, Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund deliver exceptional turns as two soldiers whose mutually fraught returns home bring them together. Also starring are Carey Muilligan (as a young woman forced into a life of domesticity) and Mary J. Blige (as a farmer anguished over the probable loss of her life’s work and her family’s safety). In her adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s novel, Rees further cements herself as a filmmaker of formidable craft by bringing so many different dialogues together from poverty to discrimination to the criminality of white supremacy and on.
In this site’s review of the film from Sundance, we found that “Rees uses the familiarity of the film’s faded Americana to comment on something intrinsic about the lasting suffering of working-class Americans, and the divisions that exist even between people living at the same economic levels of society.” Netflix has released the film’s first trailer in advance of its streaming and limited theatrical release on November 17th, and it only confirms that in a just world, Mudbound will make quite a bit of noise during the thick of this year’s awards season. Check out the preview above.