In 2017 we’ve seen a handful of stories, in film and television, attempt to bring our country’s history of racism to the screen. Some have been pulled off with searing authenticity and urgency, like Raoul Peck’s fantastic I Am Not Your Negro, while others have failed to tackle America’s history of anti-black violence with clarity and nuance (looking at you Detroit). Dee Rees’ Mudbound is about to join that former category, a sprawling historical epic about two Mississippi Delta families, one black, one white, during the Jim Crow era.

Mudbound follows two men returning home after World War II, both shell-shocked and traumatized by the violence of war. While both Jaime McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) are struggling with PTSD, Ronsel is also faced with the everyday racism of his hometown. Rees’ film charts the growing friendship between the two men and the ensuing hostility that builds between their families. The first trailer introduces the ensemble cast, which includes Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Jonathan Banks, Rob Morgan, and Jason Clarke.

Rees previously told much more contained stories with 2011’s Pariah and HBO’s Bessie, but here she proves she’s more than capable of tackling an epic of this scale. I saw the film back at Sundance and it’s still one of the most startling dramas I’ve seen this year. Things have been relatively quiet since Netflix purchased the film back at Sundance, but the streaming studio is giving it a limited theatrical release on November 17, hopefully giving it the awards season boost Rees’ film so deserves.

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