While it is a serious front-runner in the awards race this year, Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is also the subject of one of the biggest backlashes in recent cinema.
There’s a growing unease with the film, especially Oscar nominee Sam Rockwell‘s racist Southern cop character who gets a sympathetic moral arc despite not really growing. In a new interview with EW, McDonagh has responded to the criticisms:
“I don’t think his character is redeemed at all – he starts off as a racist jerk. He’s the same pretty much at the end, but, by the end, he’s seen that he has to change. There is room for it, and he has, to a degree, seen the error of his ways, but in no way is he supposed to become some sort of redeemed hero of the piece.
It’s supposed to be a deliberately messy and difficult film. Because it’s a messy and difficult world. You have to kind of hold up a mirror to that a little bit and say we don’t have any kind of solution. But I think there’s a lot of hope and humanity in the film and if you look at all those issues with those things in your heart, we might move on to a more interesting place.”
Other criticisms have been levelled at the treatment of minority characters and its overall lack of saying anything – forgoing introspection or actual growth of its characters in favour of increasing (and increasingly ludicrous) chaos – rage vented with no real direction. That said there’s a lot of major defenders of it as well. If it wins, expect the discourse to continue for quite some time.