FREE STATE OF JONES – Rated R

Free State of Jones

FREE STATE OF JONES – Rated R – 2 hrs. 19 min

Starring Matthew McConaughey, GuGu Mabatha-Raw, and Keri Russell

Torn from the pages of our countries history during the Civil War, we meet real-life nurse and surgical assistant Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), aiding to the wounded on the Confederate side of this war…

Choosing to aid in this manner, rather than fight in a war he doesn’t believe in, Knight is forever changed when a young man from his own family is slain during battle.

Taking this youngster back to his mama, Newt reunites with his wife Serena (Keri Russell) and young son, only to realize that this war we are fighting amongst ourselves is absolutely pointless and he’s not going back…

Now being branded a deserter, Newt follows nursemaid Rachel (GuGu Mabatha-Raw) into the swamplands to lie low for a while, where he meets a few ex-slaves who have sought refuge themselves within the swamps of Mississippi.

As the war rages on, Newt and his black followers join forces with a group of white farmers, who are tired of fighting this war on behalf of all “the rich and powerful Southerners”, who seem to be way too good to go to war themselves…

And as Newt’s company grows stronger and more volatile as they stand their ground against their own Confederate Army, it seems the tides they are a changing, as Jones County is now considered a FREE STATE OF JONES…

I give FREE STATE OF JONES a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS ONE ON DVD ~ McConaughey’s definitely went into this role vying for another gold statue ~ why yes he did ~ playing the scruffy deserter ~ turned visionary ~ seeking to change the course of his own life, and the course of our countries history as well. Mabatha-Raw is good too, as the ex-slave and eventual love interest for Knight, even though they were never allowed to marry. And Russell’s role this time around as Newt’s wife is significantly smaller than I expected, but her character’s role in this real-life story, turns out to be quite a significant one. So why am I not sending you running to a theater near you to catch this HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT FILM? First, this one plays out WAY TOO SLOW for my liking. I realize we don’t want to miss out on any important parts of this storyline, but I found myself wanting it to move along already more than once throughout this films over 2 hour timeframe. Secondly, I wasn’t too fond of the graphic nature of this film – I realize that the Civil War was a very gruesome time in our country’s history ~ both socially ~ and in the way we fought one another too, but this films graphic scenes became way to graphic, and way too many for my liking. I also felt that the side story which emerges, is totally unnecessary too, as all the bouncing back and forth between storylines ~ and decades ~just started to become annoying…which leads me to share…If you are a history buff and you love McConaughey, then of course you have to head out the theater this weekend to catch this one ON THE BIG SCREEN, but if history mixed with graphic violence isn’t really your deal, then you might want to wait and catch this one DVD, at least until we see if McConaughey’s performance yields him any big nods during awards season this year…

Kathy Kaiser