Matthew McConaughey and Jacob Lofland in a scene from 'Free State of Jones.'
STX Entertainment via AP
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Newton Knight was a poor Mississippi farmer and Confederate soldier who deserted the army in early 1862, waged a rebellion against the Confederacy and ended up forming a little colony of exiles, which they referred to as the Free State of Jones.The film might teach you the name Newton Knight (played by a scruffy, gaunt and almost feral Matthew McConaughey), but it is far too sprawling and too unfocused to be placed alongside "12 Years a Slave" in the canon of forgotten Civil War-era stories. There's also the deplorable "Twenty Slave Law" which allows members of the Confederacy to opt out of conscription if they provide 20 slaves. It's a law that benefits only the rich and that is not lost on Newt or his poor friends, none of whom own slaves or support the Confederate cause either. "Free State of Jones" is scheduled to open in Beirut-area theaters Thursday.
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