True Civil War era story about a white Southerner who falls for a slave and consequently rebels against the Confederacy.
ActorsStarring: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell, Jacob Lofland, Sean Bridgers, Brad Carter, Jane McNeill, Gary Grubbs, Christopher Berry, Joe Chrest, David Jensen, Kurt Krause, Carlton Caudle, Martin Bats Bradford, Matthew Lintz, Kerry Cahill, Jessica Collins, Juan Gaspard, Liza J. Bennett, David Maldonado, Serenity Neil, Lawrence Turner, Lara Grice, Wayne Pére, Jim Klock, Emily Bossak, P.J. Marshall, Ritchie Montgomery, Mattie Liptak, Jill Jane Clements, Thomas Francis Murphy, Johnny McPhail, Bill Tangradi, William Mark McCullough, Sam Malone, Kylen Davis, Will Beinbrink
Free State of Jones was a little misleading with its trailers, but that by no means indicates that it was not a good film. The trailer portrayed the movie as more of an action film. There are a fair number of gunfights throughout, most of which can be partially glimpsed in the trailer. But the action sequences are not what the film is about. A large portion of the story takes place during the American Civil War so of course there are going to be battles. This is by no means an action movie; nor could the brief action sequences even be intense or focused enough to call Free State of Jones a thriller. It is, at its core, a historical film.
If you are a fan of history, that is fantastic. I sincerely think that you are going to enjoy this movie. Other viewers may feel that the film just drags on and on and on. The movie has a lot of talking; characters just standing around and talking. Sometimes they talk to each other and sometimes they monologue, but talking is talking. While that may not be the best path for a giant blockbuster $$$ film, it was perfect for a historical story. War is a lot of standing around and talking with brief moments of action, just as this film portrays. Free State of Jones is meant to show another side of the Confederacy. Not everyone in the Confederate Army was up in arms ready to fight for the South. Many of them were men who were just told, “We are going to war. Consider yourself conscripted.” But Free State of Jones is not about the war itself.
For viewers who are not very familiar with the American Civil War, it will be harder to follow this film. That being said, the movie deals with a theme that is not entirely uncommon. Soldiers who are poor farmers and other simple men ask themselves, “Why are we fighting and dying for these rich folks? They are not bleeding to keep their wealth, so why should we bleed for them?” This leads to soldiers deserting and they end up being helped by runaway slaves, whom they help in return. These black men fight alongside them for freedom from the Confederacy and become fellow soldiers, brothers-in-arms. Then the war ends.
Anyone who has ever read a history book can tell you that the Emancipation Proclamation was only a baby step forward in ending slavery. When there is a war on, people are willing to let bygones be bygones so that they will not die. But once that is over, things become a racial issue again. Free State of Jones ultimately focuses not on war or even freedom, but segregation. The abolishment of segregation is an increasingly slow process that even today is still a major issue. It certainly did not come close to ending within Newton Knight’s lifetime. Nor did this one man’s action in a single county of Mississippi have a particularly remarkable impact on history. But the film portrays how the seeds were planted for those equal rights and how much of a struggle it is to have those seeds germinate. While the overall rating for Free State of Jones is not exactly 5 stars, as a historical film it is certainly worth your time.