Free State of Jones (2016) Sunday, 22 September 2019

Free State of Jones (2016)

Additional Info

  • Rating:

    MA15+: Strong themes and violence.

  • The pitch:

    A conflicted Reconstruction.

  • Starring:

    Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell, Christopher Berry, Sean Bridgers, Jacob Lofland, Thomas Francis Murphy

  • Directed by:

    Gary Ross

  • Running time:

    139 minutes

  • Rated:

    MA15+ (Australia), 15 (UK), R (USA)


    People are shot, slapped, beaten, whipped (implied), raped (implied), hunted, bitten, threatened with guns/knives, hanged (including children), strangled, dragged, kicked, mutilated (genitals cut off - implied), terrorised. Animal stabbed repeatedly. Battles, skirmishes, cannon fire, explosions. Ku Klux Klan members seen. Homes/businesses/cotton/fields burned. Young girls armed with shotguns. Stealing, arson, ransacking. Collapsed buildings. Hanging deserters, starvation mentioned. Screaming (childbirth), shouting. Blood/gore: Hanged corpses (including children), coffins. Soldiers marching over dead bodies. Pigs eat a dead man's stomach. Corpse being loaded onto mule for return home. Mothers cut down hanged sons. Exploding heads (shot), leg blown off (blood/bone/muscle/sinew visible). Bloody legs, arms, clothing, faces, bullet wounds, heads, torsos, backs, objects, bandages, water, floor. Black eye, scars, scratches. Face/head caved in; open skull. Medical tent (lots of blood). Man using saw on patient. Stitching, wound-cleaning, limping. People with bloody stumps, infection, branding scar on face. Dog roasted/eaten; pig roasted/eaten/cut up. Photos of dead bodies. Man with metal neck contraption (slavery device). Child with high fever.


    References to rape. Blood on woman's back after being beaten for denying sex. Kissing, flirting, holding, comforting.


    Alcohol (spirits). Smoking (cigarettes, pipes). Intoxication.


    N-word. Name-calling. Religious references (prayer) and exclamations (God, Jesus).


    Newton Knight, nineteenth century American history, American Civil War, slavery, death, grief, segregation, race, drafting, abolitionists, deserters, freedom, injustice, uprising, enlistment, mixed-race relationships, Reconstruction, miscegenation.


    American Civil War, funeral, courtroom settings. Estranged (sold) family mentioned. Birth scene. Pigs, dogs, mule, snake, horses, flies. Based on a true story.


    Quiet, deliberate, relevant, horrifying, ambitious, powerful, comprehensive, honest, good, important, absorbing, educational, well-intentioned. Career-best/empathetic/solid performance by Matthew McConaughey, bracing/chilling opening sequence, compelling/intriguing/little-known/fascinating story, Gary Ross establishes a thoughtful/non-sensationalistic/unsentimental tone, lush rural locations, sets and costumes have a lived-in-and-died-in look.


    Imperfect, workmanlike, dry, sober, studious, drab, dogged, pious, stiff-jointed, cautious, confused, rambling, drippy, vanilla, overlong, inert, inelegant, problematic. Recurring flash-forward scenes are distracting/out of place, shapeless story.

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