Ever since the end of the first season of True Detective I've really been wanting more Matthew McConaughey in my life. That charming half-smile. That creepy, hyper-intense stare. That unmistakable yet unplaceable Southern drawl. I don't care if it's laid-back, bongo drumming all right, all right, all right McConaughey, or if it's riddle-speaking, indecipherable, slightly creepy, brooding McConaughey. I need more Matthew McConaughey.
You know what else I need? Black pain and suffering. I need another movie focused on the brutalization of black bodies filtered through a Hollywood lens. I need the only faces on the screen that look like mine to be crying, screaming, or slack from the noose.
It used to be that I'd have to separate these much-needed experiences of McConaughey and black pain. Dazed and Confused on Monday, The Help on Tuesday. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past on Wednesday, 12 Years a Slave on Thursday.
But what if you could have it all? What if you could have slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, black pain, black murder, black suffering—and more Matthew McConaughey than you ever thought imaginable?
Dreams can come true. And they have come true in this 139 minute masterpiece of McConaughey-ness: Free State of Jones.
Which McConaughey are you getting in this movie? You are getting Oscar-bait McConaughey. You are getting greasy-haired, struggle-beard McConaughey. You are getting red-eyed, tortured-soul McConaughey. And you are getting so very much of it.
Watch Matthew McConaughey carry wounded Confederate soldiers off of the battlefield. Watch Matthew McConaughey cradle one of his dying young kin in the midst of war. Matthew McConaughey knows that this war is wrong and he will have no more of it.
Watch Matthew McConaughey badass his way into exile when he fights Confederate soldiers trying to take the food and supplies from neighboring farms. Watch Matthew McConaughey's wife immediately be like, "Fuck this, I'm out" and disappear. Watch Matthew McConaughey not once ask what happened to her or their son.
Watch the magical negroes heal Matthew McConaughey from his wounds that he received while badassing his way into exile. Don't watch them do much else until it's time for them to die.
Watch Matthew McConaughey repeatedly risk the lives of his new props-friends (escaped slaves/magical negroes) so that he can also save them.
What was slavery like for black people? Look at Matthew McConaughey's tortured face as he thinks about how bad it must be and you will know.
Watch Matthew McConaughey beat his chest and tear at his hair in anguish as time and time again his friends and family are killed for his badassery.
Watch Matthew McConaughey slowly fall in love with a slave woman who had previously saved his child with his first wife (whom he still hasn't bothered to ask about), with whom he will eventually enter into a common-law marriage.
Don't watch Matthew McConaughey mention that his to-be wife—the former slave Rachel—was not owned by a random white dude but by his own grandpa (as was the case with the actual Newton Knight, the guy that Matthew McConaughey is pretending to be in this film). They forgot to include that part.
Watch Matthew McConaughey teach former slaves how to read.
Watch greasy-haired Matthew McConaughey bravely stand up to all the bad white folks who don't approve of him consorting with black folk. Feel good, knowing that if you were alive during the Civil War, you would have been friends with black folk too.
Wake up! Don't fall asleep! I know the Civil War part is over but for some reason this film is still going. You don't want to miss Matthew McConaughey rescuing a black kid from indentured servitude.
Even though the war is over, Matthew McConaughey is not going to wash his hair, otherwise how else would you know that this is a SERIOUS film?
Sleep through the parts of the film that randomly cut to the 1940s when Newton Knight's grandson is on trial for miscegenation. I'm pretty sure that these were meant to be a part of a different white-savior film and somebody in the cutting room got mixed up.
Okay, back to Matthew McConaughey. Watch all the white people abandon greasy-haired Matthew McConaughey after the war because he can't stop badassing everywhere even though the war is over. Matthew McConaughey doesn't care, he can still badass with his black friends.
Matthew McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey.
Wake up! Reconstruction is about to start! It's one of the bloodiest times in our history for black people in America, and we have to know what it was like for Matthew McConaughey.
Watch Matthew McConaughey clench his fists in righteous indignation and rage as his black props-friends are terrorized.
Watch Matthew McConaughey weep while clutching the feet of his black prop-friend who was beaten and hanged from a tree. You know it is horrible because there is a mutilated black body for us to stare at and Matthew McConaughey is very upset over it.
Watch Matthew McConaughey soldier on. Because no matter how many injustices he has had to witness, no matter how many of his friends he has to bury, nothing will stop Matthew McConaughey from badassing.
Don't watch Matthew McConaughey have children with one of Rachel's (yes, his wife Rachel) daughters after Rachel passes away, like Newton Knight did. That is not a Matthew McConaughey we want to see. Instead, watch Matthew McConaughey and Rachel walk off into the sunset together and feel good about this good white man who badassed against slavery and bigotry and saved/endangered a bunch of silent black props-friends.
Enjoy this film, White People, and, yes, you are white, because this movie was definitely made for you, and I'm not sure why anybody nonwhite would want to watch it. Learn about the darkest period of our nation's history through the eyes of Matthew McConaughey. Watch Matthew McConaughey fight, run, lead, and cry, and know that you would never have been the racist caricatures that Matthew McConaughey fought, and you would also never have been the helpless, mostly silent, and always suffering black people whom Matthew McConaughey fought for. You would have been Matthew McConaughey—badass, greasy-haired Matthew McConaughey. Feel good about that.