Film Review: Mudbound

Review by Dash Wilson.

Up until now, Netflix has failed to match its success with television into film. Bright, Netflix’s latest release starring Will Smith has been universally panned with some calling it the worst film of the year. It is interesting then, that one of the best films of the year also came from the streaming service. Based on the novel of the same name and released in early 2018, Dee Ree’s (Pariah, Bessie) Mudbound depicts two World War II veterans (Jason Mitchell and Garett Hedlund) – one white, one black – who return to Mississippi each to address racism and PTSD in their own way. 

Shot by Rachael Morrison ASC (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther) on an ARRI Alexa Mini (the project couldn’t be shot on film due to budget restrictions), the visuals are subtle and yet sublime to watch. Through the use of natural light and sprawling landscapes, the warm hues burst through the screen but never so much that they take away from the performances and drama slowly unfolding. 

A film of historical imagination that lands in the present with disquieting, illuminating force, this is a film that will stay with you long after the credits role. The performances are all excellent with singer, Mary J. Blige particularly good as Florence Jackson, the family matriarch. Whilst the direction, cinematography and acting are all impressive, ultimately this is a simple tale of two families working the same patch of land in the Mississippi Delta, an unforgiving place where dreams go to die. No woman has ever even been nominated for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards. Morrison’s ground-breaking work in Mudbound has changed that.

Reviewing all five films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2018, Dash Wilson is a film-lover based in Brisbane and is the resident Film Critic for Australian Cinematographer Magazine.

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