Selling for a pricey £12.5m at Sundance this year, Dee Rees’s Mudbound received a hearty welcome at the Toronto film festival in advance of its November 17 debut on Netflix. Adapted from Hilary Jordan’s 2008 novel, with a cast including Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan, Garrett Hedlund and singer-songwriter Mary J. Blige, Rees’ film tells the intertwining stories of a white family and an African-American family in rural Mississippi after the Second World War.
Shepherding some of her loyal actors, minus Mary J., to the Deadline Studio, Rees explained that the script was first given to her by producer Cassian Elwes, the indie world’s Mr. Fixit, in 2015. “I thought there was a lot of ‘there’ there,” she recalled, “and that motivated me to go back and read the book. What I loved about Hilary Jordan’s work were the multiple points of view. It reminded me of [William Faulkner’s novel] As I Lay Dying, so it was very Faulknerian in that way. I really wanted to get inside the inner monologues, and that’s what I got excited about. Every character has their inner drive.” Rees concluded that “it was really important that the film feel completely subjective, so we’re with each character.”
Jason Clarke appeared to speak for everyone when asked about the experience of making the film, which, on screen, didn’t exactly seem to have been a picnic. “It was [punishing] for everybody,” admitted the Australian. “But we’re a good bunch of people that all stuck together. It informed the part.”
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