Six years ago, filmmaker Dee Rees made her feature narrative debut with Pariah, a quiet, lovely coming-of-age drama about a young black girl struggling with her sexuality in a repressed household. The film was met with critical acclaim, as was her follow up, the Emmy Award-winning Bessie, about the tragic life of blues singer Bessie Smith. And so it’s safe to say that expectations are pretty high for Rees’ next film, Mudbound, which is already generating awards season chatter.
The film debuted to positive reviews out of Sundance earlier this year, and the first trailer reveals just how sweeping and grand Rees’ cinematic ambitions were this time around. Based on Hillary Jordan’s novel of the same name and set in the rural south around the time of World War II, it tells the story of a white family, the McAllans, and the black sharecropping family that leases part of their land, the Jacksons. Garrett Hedlund and Straight Outta Compton's Jason Mitchell play the respective sons who go off to war and bond over their return to hardened, unsettling conditions, while husband and wife Henry (Jason Clarke) and Laura (Carey Mulligan) struggle to farm their barren land. The trailer conveys the tension that arises from all of these circumstances, through the sepia-toned shots of bleak and muddied terrain, a menacing Jonathan Banks (playing the McAllen patriarch), and violence in war and at home.
Mudbound will debut on Netflix on Nov. 17.