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Sundance Review: Mudbound

Mudbound is the story of two families whose lives we see moments of before, during and immediately after World War II. These families face many differences in privilege because one family is white and owns a farm, while the other is black and works hard on that farm for their means of living. The film is set in Mississippi where racial tensions were beyond high. On my Twitter feed after seeing Mudbound, I saw someone describe the film as captivating. I found it to be completely the opposite, that is until the last 15 minutes or so. Most of the film is a quiet ponderous drama, until some crazy stuff goes down near the end.

I'll be honest, sometimes viewing conditions can really taint how you experience a film. In this case, I saw Mudbound late at night and was pretty tired. I needed something gripping to pull me in, and that didn't happen early on. Also, I ended up in the balcony seating area of the theater I was in, which happens to have the most uncomfortable seats known to man. I wanted to focus on the film, but my discomfort and lack of leg room was more prevalent. As a result, I really felt the slow pace of the film, and it was hard to watch. However, taking a step back and looking at it, I realize that I'm not being very fair to the film.

Mudbound was based on a book and you can tell. There's so many characters and so much story to tell, the film picks and chooses what to focus on and some things are spread a little thin. It would be interesting to read the book to fill in the missing gaps and see things from a deeper perspective of the characters. The film just grazes the surface, but still manages to do a pretty strong job at that. Mudbound benefits from a solid cast, and I really can't think of a weak link within it. The characters are all very interesting and we get to see them against a backdrop of a time and place that together has seldom been explored in film. Mudbound is a solid film, but not as riveting all throughout as I hoped.

RATING: 7.5/10. (But could possibly raise after a second viewing.)

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