Under current circumstances, it’s a good time to think about freedom and its hefty price tag. “Free State of Jones” takes a long, hard look at the American Civil War and the Confederacy’s economic system that thrived on slavery and taking from the poor and giving to the rich.
The opening scenes give us a taste to how it was done back then — anyone who owned more than 20 slaves was exempt from fighting and their land was protected by the Confederate Army. As for the rest of the populace: Men were unceremoniously plucked off farms to fight, hung if they tried to desert, and after fathers and sons were taken away, the army seized their land and took anything else of value from the women left behind. Soldier Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) is disgusted by the whole thing and longs to get away, especially since he works as a medic, attempting to treat fatal wounds on a battlefield drenched in the blood of his fellow soldiers.