Mudbound ★★★★

As reductive as it may sound (the connection came up in my head because Dee Rees and Ava Duvernay are two of the most successful black women working in Hollywood today), I found myself thinking of Duvernay's Selma, a cinematic, expansive, powerfully directed follow up to her smaller, more quiet, indie release Middle of Nowhere. In making a similar leap, Dee Rees is as successful as Duvernay. Both directors proved themselves adept handelers of big, important stories.

Mudbound uses some story telling techniques that, in lesser hands, could have felt non-modern or antiquated. The literary narration, episodic structure, changing of perspectives from one character to another, and the epic nature of the story were all used successfully by Rees. For a film in 2017 to feel engaging and modern with these structural qualities is no small feat.

There are some elements of the story, primarily the focus on the redemptive white savior character, that made it slightly less compelling overall. But that's more of a complaint with the source material than with the cinematic adaption. But overall, this was a great film, and another point of evidence in favor of expanding diversity in the kinds of people who get to make expansive, ambitious films. Can you imagine what a character like Gandhi's Kasturba Gandhi would have been like if a woman of color directed that film? Or how Ken Loach's Wind That Shakes The Barley would be different if directed by a woman? I, for one, am ready to see some new kids of epics, some new perspectives on these histories.