This film takes a surprising twist in story telling that isn’t shown once in the trailers leading up to its release. It’s a film that felt oddly placed in the season of summer blockbusters but did well to break up one major action or science fiction film after another. This movie challenges you to step outside your comfort zone and examine social issues relevant still today. So let’s jump in and take a look at my thoughts on “Free State of Jones” in this box office review…
The overall story felt similar to Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot” in that Matthew McConaughey doesn’t realize his purpose to fight the system until after his son is killed. This is not a spoiler either because it’s in the trailer. It’s also a period piece set in early America during the Civil War where we see the South fighting not only the Northerners but also their own people in the South as they tax and over tax to support the war effort. It’s one perspective the film gives that is certainly entertaining as we see the internal struggle McConaughey has knowing he must fight but isn’t a fighter, he’s actually a nurse. He’s also probably the most strategic nurse of all time and seemingly born with a fighters instinct as we see later on in the film. His role changes from that of abandoner to leader of a rebellion and a southern “Robin Hood” of sorts.
The writing in this film really challenges the audience to take a look at racism as it existed and persisted even after the Civil War. Often times, we’ll read in history how the war ended and the slaves were freed and that’s it. However, the culture of slavery didn’t end with the conclusion of the war and this movie explores that side of southern living well, even decades after the war concludes. I was pleasantly surprised at how the time lines jump to tell the story and what could’ve been muddled and confusing wasn’t. This film deals with slavery and post slavery America so there’s some intense scenes and because of that I need you to be mentally prepared for some of the atrocities displayed in this film. This won’t be an easy film to watch but it’s worth the viewing at least once.
“Free State of Jones” is in theaters now! If you enjoy historical films and period pieces this is a film to consider seeing on the big screen. It’s good but not great which leads me to believe that its release during the summer season instead of Oscar season was well timed. Also, McConaughey gives an incredible performance as a man at war with himself as he struggles to identify what his role is with freeing slaves, fighting his countrymen, saving lives, being a family man and a leader. It’s complex and challenging but he’s talented enough to pull it off and really show us and help us feel the burden his character is working through. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets nominated for an Oscar even if the film doesn’t. I also won’t be surprised if he’s overlooked because there’s a lot of good movies out that you’ve been reading about here in these box office reviews.