Gary Ross’ Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey, tells the “true” story of Newton Knight a Mississippi farmer who, during the American civil war, rebelled against the Confederate army. It is hailed as an anti-racist drama.
An overlong paternalist melodrama Free State of Jones should not be remembered either because of its uninspired visual language nor its below average story telling or any of the inept characterization it offers.
Behind the shadow of McConaughey, poor Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mahershala Ali are trying to make something with the limited character development they get from screenwriters supposedly proud to give some voice to black actors. They really miss an occasion (since they obviously go for fiction over facts) to create strong black characters. Unforgivable. So fond of its subject (he apparently did a lot of historical research), was Ross you’d think he would be enable to develop a debates for more than few seconds over serious matters. They are dealt within seconds so you sure get no emotional build up. Just in case, some overdone lousy music is often telling you where you can put your feelings.
We are introduced to bits of the trial of his descendant over race matters, but as the the creators can’t handle one story, this makes it worst. It could be the subject of another film, but hopefully by another director and screenwriter.
Enslaved by its pretentious take on racism that it is unable to handle properly, Free State of Jones is miserable.