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Free State of Jones

Action . Drama . History . Thriller . Biography

True Civil War era story about a white Southerner who falls for a slave and consequently rebels against the Confederacy.

Actors: Matthew McConaughey , Gugu Mbatha-Raw , Mahershala Ali , Keri Russell , Jacob Lofland , Sean Bridgers , Brad Carter , Jane McNeill , Gary Grubbs , Christopher Berry
Directors: Gary Ross
Country: USA
Release: 2016-06-24
More Info:
  • Richard Roeper

    This is no history lesson, but it’s mainstream Hollywood entertainment that respects the history and seems to invite discussion and debate.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    Mr. Ross consulted some of the leading experts in the era...and has done a good job of balancing the factual record with the demands of dramatic storytelling. The result is a riveting visual history lesson, whose occasional didacticism is integral to its power.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Brad Wheeler

    Instead of captivating us with swagger, McConaughey chooses to go grim and dogged. Director Ross does the same.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Free State of Jones is enticingly difficult to chart. It’s anti-war, anti-plutocracy and anti-racist, but it’s also pro-Bible, pro-gun, anti-tax and sympathetic to the poor whites who usually get tagged as racist. Its hero is an avowed Republican named Newt.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The result is rather a mess, but it’s an honorable one, and very much worth wrestling with.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Free State of Jones is an extraordinarily ambitious film, and for that reason, it’s not perfect.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    The movie remains quiet and deliberate, a synonym for “boring” in some minds (though not mine). In the end, it becomes an allegory for the times in which we live.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Joe Dziemianowicz

    The film gets predictable and loses its firm grip a third of the way in. Too bad, since the film directed and co-written by Gary Ross (“The Hunger Games,” “Seabiscuit”) gets off to a bang-up beginning.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    In supporting roles, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Rachel, the equally valiant house slave Newton makes his common-law wife, and Mahershala Ali as Moses, the leader of the renegade slaves, provide some powerful moments.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Kimber Myers

    Everyone here means well and wants to make an epic war film, but it lacks a narrative strong enough to make it essential viewing for those beyond the genre’s fans.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Tirdad Derakhshani

    Mixing elements from documentaries, biopics, war flicks, and Hallmark romances, Ross' film is a living history tour, but with gory special effects and a smoldering smattering of sex appeal.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Godfrey Cheshire

    As inherently astonishing and powerful as this little-known episode is, it has not been well-served by Ross’ lumpy, ill-conceived script, which ends up wasting Matthew McConaughey’s terrific lead performance and other strong acting contributions. Full Review
  • John Hartl

    Unfortunately, it’s so ambitious that it’s constantly straining to find a focus.

    The Seattle Times Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    Ross keeps his camera in McConaughey’s face, too. Every dirt stain, every twitch, every glower, wink and wince, is hard to miss. It’s not a bad performance, but it is an absurdly busy one.

    Movie Nation Full Review
  • Calvin Wilson

    Aspires to greatness but fumbles badly.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Ross' smooth, steady film is just interesting enough to make you wish it were a lot grittier, and better.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    Writer-director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) knows how to please crowds, so there's fascination in his consistently wrongheaded impulse to add more historical details: lengthy scenes of exposition, even a leap decades into the future for a courtroom drama involving Knight's persecuted offspring. He's lost sight of the powerful drama at this story's heart, about the ennobling swirl of momentous events.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Jimmy Geurts

    Anyone visiting Free State of Jones merely hoping to learn more about an interesting anti-slavery rebellion will likely come away sated, but those looking for an exciting, vital piece of filmmaking will have to wait for another opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Robert Abele

    That you may learn a good deal about an unusually driven man, but never quite feel emotionally connected to him, means Ross has hit a workmanlike middle, crafting a handsome textbook more than a blood-pumping portrait.

    TheWrap Full Review
  • Jordan Raup

    Free State of Jones has a story worth telling, it just doesn’t know how to effectively do so.

    The Film Stage Full Review
  • Jesse Hassenger

    Ross may not be a great director, but he has written some very good screenplays, none of which sprawl out like this one.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    As gratifying as it is to see forgotten history brought to light, it’s disappointing, too: There’s an epic story to be told within Free State of Jones, but this white-knight tale isn’t it.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    Free State of Jones is a well-intentioned slog through a potentially fascinating bit of Civil War history, brought to life only by Matthew McConaughey’s performance, and then only occasionally.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Marjorie Baumgarten

    As it is, Newt Knight, the forward-thinking white liberal, is the only character with whom we might connect. And that’s a shame because this compelling episode of American defiance is so much richer than that.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Bilge Ebiri

    Diligent and informative but also fragmented and inert, it plays like a series of scenes and notes for a longer, more fleshed-out movie.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Jake Cole

    After its bracing opening, the film begins to indulge the worst impulses of well-meaning liberal cinema.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Joe McGovern

    Ross wants to shake up the format­—notably with a few scenes set 85 years after the war—but like so many directors who have tackled ­historical social issues before him, he confuses noble, cornball sermonizing for art.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    A compelling and little-known story of the Civil War period is studiously reduced to a dry and cautious history lesson in Free State of Jones.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    For all the ravaged surface appeal of McConaughey’s performance, the character is a little too good to be true, but then, that’s just the sort of movie Free State of Jones is. It’s a tale of racial liberation and heroic bloodshed that is designed, at almost every turn, to lift us up to that special place where we can all feel moved by what good liberals we are.

    Variety Full Review
  • Tim Grierson

    Although occasionally stirring, the film rarely rises above the level of intriguing anecdote, resulting in a deeply drab drama enlivened somewhat by Matthew McConaughey’s empathetic performance.

    Screen International Full Review
  • Clint Worthington

    On top of trying to be a Big, Important Film, Jones is also meant to be a showcase for McConaughey’s post-Oscar relevance as a dramatic actor, and he turns in a solid but unmemorable lead performance.

    Consequence of Sound Full Review
  • David Ehrlich

    Too robust to sink into the rhythms of a character study, but too financially limited to tell a story that matches the sweep of its director’s vision, Free State of Jones is a film divided against itself, and it cannot stand.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Erin Whitney

    The last thing America needs is a historical movie correlating white people problems with those of people of color.

    ScreenCrush Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    Rather than focusing on the most fascinating part of the story -- that would be the establishment and subsequent dissolution of free state after which the film is named -- his film devolves into a series of belabored points, high-minded pontifications and audience manipulation.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    Strong acting often lends authenticity to writing that lacks it, and Mr. McConaughey is, to be sure, an exceptionally strong actor. Yet this screenplay is so arid in its didacticism, so pallid in its would-be passion, that it defeats his efforts and our involvement.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Like the worst civics lesson, this movie bores away at you till your reactions are dulled.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
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  • 1. I'm Crying Performer: Lucinda Williams, Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Caitlin Sullivan & Shawn Conley Stream Music Online
  • 3. The Free State of Jones Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain & Caitlin Sullivan Stream Music Online
  • 6. Killing the Colonel Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Caitlin Sullivan, Hideaki Aomori, C.J. Camerieri, Alex Sopp, Shawn Conley & Rob Moose Stream Music Online
  • 9. Piney Woods Swamp Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Shawn Conley & Shawn Pelton Stream Music Online
  • 11. July 1863 / Loyalty Oath Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Caitlin Sullivan, Hideaki Aomori, C.J. Camerieri & Rob Moose Stream Music Online
  • 12. Resistance Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Shawn Conley & Shawn Pelton Stream Music Online
  • 13. John Madison Knight Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Caitlin Sullivan, Shawn Conley & Rob Moose Stream Music Online
  • 16. They Took Everything Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Caitlin Sullivan, Hideaki Aomori & Rob Moose Stream Music Online
  • 17. Battle of Corinth Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Caitlin Sullivan, Hideaki Aomori, C.J. Camerieri, Shawn Conley & Rob Moose Stream Music Online
  • 18. Let There Be Light Performer: Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain, Caitlin Sullivan, Hideaki Aomori, C.J. Camerieri, Alex Sopp, Shawn Conley & Rob Moose Stream Music Online

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  • slavery

  • american civil war

  • civil war

  • deserter

  • confederate

  • slave

  • bitten by a dog

  • dog

  • 1860s

  • court

  • african american

  • box office flop

  • based on true story

  • independent film