FREE STATE OF JONES (2016)
Gary Jones’ film based on his own screenplay from a story by Leonard Hartman is based on the true life story of Newton Knight who during the American Civil War in 1863 served as a medic for the Confederate Army. Opposed to slavery and the fact that the war was mostly about rich white land owners wanting to preserve the status quo, he opted to help the wounded than fight the Union. Feeling that the poor whites fighting the war were little more than indentured servants to the priviledged class and after his beloved nephew dies in his arms he returns home to help and safeguard his family. Having been branded an outlaw deserter he joins a group of runaway slaves in the swamps and with the help of other farmers and deserters forms an alliance to battle the Southern factions surrounding them. This film also shows how the Klu Klux Klan came to power after the war as a way of preserving the Old South and how the Jim Crow laws affected every aspect of society way into the 1960s. There is a flash forward segment that shows that even if you had the slightest amount of black blood in you and for all intents and purposes were 95% white, that the miscegenation laws could still send you to prison. Much like TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE was difficult to watch, so is this film. It showed the utter destruction and despair the Civil War brought to the country, so much so that it was said at the time that the country would never again engage in any war. This is perhaps Matthew McConaughey’s finest film and performance, with tremendous support from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell, Mahershala Ali and Sean Bridgers among a very large cast of excellent actors.