A successful adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s novel that introduces us to two families in Mississippi shortly before, during and after World War II – one is white, the other is black. Their sons are fighting together over in Europe, which opens their eyes in ways that the old, racist Mississippi can’t understand. The story subjects us to poverty, an unhappy marriage, Ku Klux Klan and an awful lot of mud. Focus shifts between characters, not always in a satisfying way, but the film is nevertheless a sad, infuriating and realistic experience, boosted by a fine cast that includes Jonathan Banks as a patriarch of an evil, old sort, and singer Mary J. Blige in her first meaty role.
2017-U.S. 134 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Carl Effenson, Sally Jo Effenson, Cassian Elwes, Christopher Lemole, Kim Roth, Tim Zajaros. Directed by Dee Rees. Screenplay: Dee Rees, Virgil Williams. Novel: Hillary Jordan. Cinematography: Rachel Morrison. Song: ”Mighty River” (Raphael Saadiq, Mary J. Blige). Cast: Carey Mulligan (Laura McAllan), Garrett Hedlund (Jamie McAllan), Jason Clarke (Henry McAllan), Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks.
Last word: “It was a shameless way to delve into my family history and add all those details. I wanted to bring forward from my grandmother’s experience of living on a farm; to bring the idea that there is grace and luxury in the smallest things. A cool glass of water is a luxury because you realise the huge amounts of work that’s required to get water into that glass. Coffee, sugar, sweets – all those things are luxuries. These people didn’t eat meat every day and I wanted the cast to look like they only eat 600 calories a day. They should look like they’ve never seen a fruit smoothy!” (Rees, The Independent)