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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Netflix original film ‘Mudbound’ brings a dense insight in race relations

Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund star as Ronsel Jackson and Jamie McAllan in “Mudbound” IMDb website photo

Through well-crafted production and acting, “Mudbound” delivers an ambitious film that is well worth seeing.

“Mudbound,” directed by Dee Rees, follows two families in rural post-World War II Mississippi. The white McAllan family operate a farm, while the black Jackson family are the sharecroppers who work on the McAllan farm. When Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) return home from the European theater of war, the two begin an unlikely friendship. However, their new bond becomes jeopardized when McAllan is constantly haunted by his memories of war and Jackson begins to face the harsh realities of the Jim Crow South.

“Mudbound” is the best original film that Netflix has produced.

The production value of the film, especially the cinematography, is nothing short of perfect. Cinematographer Rachel Morrison did an outstanding job capturing the true, raw nature of the American reality which earned the film a Best Cinematography nomination at the 90th Academy Awards and also makes Morrison to also be the first woman nominated for the award.

The unique and enthralling cinematography, including the use of camera angles, helped the audience become invested into the McAllan and Jackson families and their stories, and it soulfully depicted the depicted the hardships of life as a farmer and life as a black person in the Deep South.

The acting in “Mudbound” was also superb. Carey Mulligan’s performance as Laura McAllan and Mary J. Blige’s performance as Florence Jackson were some of the most captivating and emotionally driven performances in recent cinema.

Mudbound 1.jpg
Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan star as Florence Jackson and Laura McAllan
IMDb website photo

Very rarely do we see characters in film that are strong women.

Of course, women have been in leading roles in films such as Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman” and Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” But this has only been a recent trend.

With “Mudbound,” however, I feel this film will continue this trend because it’s important to have more representation of women in film when done well and I think “Mudbound” does exactly that.

With a film that deals with topics such as racism, class division and mental illness, it would be expected that a film like “Mudbound” is densely filled with a plethora of symbolism and underlying meanings.

“Mudbound” is a cinematic masterpiece because it examines race relations between white and black people during the Jim Crow South in both positive and negative lights.

Also, the film explores different anxieties of interracial relationships, both platonic and romantic. It demonstrates how these anxieties continue to perpetuate racism and discrimination against minority communities.

This is not the first time director Rees has explored problems within African-American communities through film. Her 2011 film “Pariah” for instance, explores homosexual anxieties that reside within African-American families and communities.

Rees is no stranger exploring these issues and presenting to the public with film. What she has done with “Mudbound” is worthy of acclaimed recognition from critics and film lovers alike.

I do not give five-stars ratings lightly. “Mudbound” however has exemplified that it is a film with an immense amount of cinematic value, displays outstanding performances from every actor in the film and has a significant amount of cultural importance.

“Mudbound” is truly one of the better films of the last decade and will certainly be revered as such in the coming decades.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.

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About the Contributor
Angel Ortega, A&E Editor
Angel Ortega is a journalism-news major with a minor in cinema studies. Angel has been on the Orion for four years, serving as both a staff writer and arts & entertainment editor. He enjoys writing artist profiles and film reviews. When he’s not working for the Orion, you can find him at a concert or music festival.

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