Free State of Jones is a movie you would usually see around awards time. The wartime drama, centered on a soldier who becomes the leader of a small integrated militia, stars recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey as the farmer-turned-Confederate-nemesis, and is directed by Gary Ross, who still has quite a lot of leverage following his helming of The Hunger Games. It’s view of race is almost earnestly timely, and the period setting allows for costume and production designers to have all sorts of (heavily researched) fun. There’s a whiff of self-righteousness underneath the whole thing that simply screams Awards material.
So, the fact that the film is coming out this week, rather than around that time, suggests one of two things. Either the film is an out-and-out dud, or its too risky a bet to let ride when the big studios are pulling out their big guns. The latest preview for the film, which you can see below and gives the viewers over six minutes of scenes from the drama, doesn’t give credence to either side of this divide. McConaughey looks to be in full-on martyr mode, and I’m not entirely sure I still want a movie about how a white guy helped slaves find freedom. Then again, the battle scenes look absolutely absorbing, and as much as I may make fun of him, McConaughey has tremendous presence in any film he’s in, even when its not used to accentuate his very real talents. We shall see by the end of the week.
Here’s the latest preview for Free State of Jones:
Here’s the official synopsis for Free State of Jones:
Directed by four-time Oscar® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and starring Oscar® winner Matthew McConaughey, Free State of Jones is an epic action-drama set during the Civil War, and 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.