I won’t be seeing Gary Ross‘s Free State of Jones (STX, 6.24) until Wednesday night, but as of this morning six respected reviewers have trashed it — Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy, TheWrap‘s Robert Abele, Indiewire‘s David Ehrlich, Entertainment Weekly‘s Joe McGovern and Screen International‘s Tim Grierson.
The general beef seems to be that the film is mainly interested in (a) delivering a dry history lesson and (b) deifying Matthew McConaughey‘s real-life Southern rebel. A Civil War-era drama that only last week was being positioned by Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson as a possible Best Picture “contender” appears to be headed for the rocks. Gleiberman: “A misfire…shot with the boxed-in functionality of basic cable television.” Abele: “One of those historical dramas with a script that’s big on crowning lines of moral fervor and not so big on nuts-and-bolts detail.” If you count Interstellar as a problem movie (and I do, hugely), this is the third stinker in a row for McConaughey. Perhaps Stephen Gaghan‘s Gold, in which he stars with Edgar Ramirez, will turn things around.