Set during the Civil War, Free State of Jones tells the story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.Written by
The county sheriff department"s vehicles have "Free State of Jones" on the front doors. See more »
When Newton Knight and his young cousin Daniel are sheltering in a rifle pit during a battle, a prominent Philip's head screw can be seen holding the parapet of the rifle pit together. The Philip's head screw wasn't invented until the 1930s. See more »
No man ought to tell another man what he's gotta live for or what he's got to die for.
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STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
As the American civil war draws to a close, Commander Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) defects from the Confederacy, his soul and spirit battered by the horrors and atrocities he has witnessed, fighting for a cause he doesn't believe in and has no stake in. He returns home to his family a broken man, but finds salvation by heading out and joining a group of freed slaves, headed by the charismatic Moses (Mahershala Ali) who are fighting for their rights, and they rise up and form an army against their oppressors, while Newton has an affair with Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw.) Eighty five years later, their grandchild sits in a courtroom battling his right to marry a white woman in the State of Louisiana...
In a time where various film academies are being cajoled into recognising the talent of black performers more than they have, and black rights activists are using historical injustices to highlight present culture (the recent Detroit being probably the most brazen example!), a film like Free State of Jones finds a nice little bubble to fall comfortably in to. But, unlike much of the hysterical, exaggerated hand wringing and hyperbole that has surfaced in the midst of it all, Gary Ross has crafted a smooth, subtle, balanced piece, that avoids sensationalism and paints a genuinely rattling, highly absorbing film, that covers every inch of the ground it explores, and keeps you engrossed until the end.
Performances wise, in the lead role, McConaughey is probably better than he has ever been, carrying the film superbly and delivering a broader range as an actor than he ever has before. He portrays a man who discovers his own character and is unable to let it go, at a time in American history where most others are blindly following along like sheep. But he still has an amazing supporting cast, most notably Ali as Moses, a man who has suffered tremendous indignity, but refuses to let go of his own dignity, as he goes on his noble quest, only to be met with an emotionally shattering conclusion. The performances and the writing are both perfectly balanced, and they compliment each other just fine.
At a time when diversity is taking an arguably more aggressive means of instilling itself, here's a project that has the integrity to stand on it's own. How surprising, then, that it got such less attention. ****
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