Matthew McConaughey is a powerful actor in a powerful role but “Free State of Jones” is not as powerful a screenplay, by Gary Ross, as it could have, should have been. All the elements are there from the story being based on a not too well known chapter in American history that includes the Civil War, slaves being mistreated by owners, inter-racial lovers, voting rights, KKK attacking, the poor who are fighting the war so the rich can get richer, a band of escaped slaves, a time in the future when a man is put on trial for marrying a white woman because he may be part black and just after that scene the film doesn’t go into the high you would not only expect but want.

The idea of a band of people calling a section of their State, here the Free State of Jones, and how that is done or would work is passed over just as what the slaves and poor white people have in common enough to unite and go against those in charge.

Gary Ross, who also directed the film, tries to stick to the facts of history and, in most cases, stays away from over dramatizing those scenes that might have been more moving, for instance the coupling of white, married Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) and black slave Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who give birth to a son and, due to reversals in fortune, his wife (Keri Russell), along with his first son, comes to live with them.

McConaughey continues his winning streak of strong characters but here he applies the strength that is only hinted at by the director and writer, while the depth of his relationship with Rachel is helped by the subtle playing of Gugu Mbatha-Raw who, after “Belle” and “Beyond the Lights” should be a huge star. Mahershala Ali, who names himself Moses, starts with a repulsive iron necklace with spears eventually removed by McConaughey, and winds up in one of the most shocking scenes of the film.

The cast, with many speaking parts, is an honest look at all sexes, ages, social strata most of who made up the armies of the Civil War. The swamp, filmed in Louisiana, provides some breath taking scenes.

“Free State of Jones” will show many viewers a part of American history not too well known, contains strong performances but at 140 minutes could have been tightened by eliminating the courtroom scenes that take place in the late 1940s making for a tighter, faster moving and, possibly, allowed some room to add emotional scenes as even most of the death moments offer nothing.




Movie trailer


Posted June 24, 2016 by greatmartin in MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

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