If you don’t care about injustice, you won’t like this film. But then again, if that’s the case, you won’t be seeing this film at all.
Free State of Jones is about Newton Knight, played by Matthew McConaughey, a Confederate soldier who deserts the army after the death of his son. He forms a community of other deserters and freed slaves, and they combat the injustices set forth by the Confederacy. There are also a few flash-forwards to Knight’s descendant as he fights for the right to marry whom he pleases.
For the most part, the film works. Clocking in at around 139 minutes, it feels closer to four hours, but I wasn’t really bored throughout. The production design is entirely believable, and the cinematography makes the most of already beautiful scenery. McConaughey and Mahershala Ali give poignantly nuanced performances.
I did not think I would enjoy this film too much, but I did. I doubt I’ll remember it come awards season, and yet there was a lot of merit in it. The worst part is that it’s still relevant, and might be forever.
Free State of Jones is in theaters now.
[At my showing, there was a horrible malfunction with the on-screen text, but I’m not sure if that is the fault of the film itself. Still, though, it ruined certain parts, and the text should have been moved to safe lines.]