Wednesday, December 20, 2017


This movie is getting a lot of attention, some saying it's the best movie of the year. It isn't the best, in my opinion, but it's a hell of a cinematic ride. Martin McDonagh, the English born Irishman, who wrote and directed it (as he did one of my favorite movies IN BRUGES), knows how to create characters that actors can have a field day with and, as a director, knows how to give his actors enough room to go as far as they can and then pull them back just enough to make their behavior plausible.

This is an actors' movie. The plot is complicated and rich enough to keep an audience engaged and even more focused than most movies demand, and the editing and cinematography are terrific, but it's the actors who make this a special treat. Frances McDormand commands the screen and gives us a vengeful woman who seems written for this "me too" moment (though the screenplay is actually almost a decade old), and Woody Harrelson, as her foil, does his usual great job.

Everyone in the movie is fantastic and could be singled out for praise. Peter Dinklage in a role unlike any other we've seen him in, John Hawkes with a nuanced portrayal of what could have been an obvious stereotype, Caleb Landry Jones makes a lasting impression in another role that could have been cliched but instead is as uniquely individual as any film character ever.

But the real revelation for me is Sam Rockwell in the role of a redneck racist cop. Rockwell is not a favorite actor of mine. He usually seems miscast to me, like a one-note comedian trying to play Hamlet as a comedy. And my first reaction seeing him in this movie was that same feeling that he was miscast and then...he owned the character in such a deep way his place in the film and probably a nod in many awards nominations seemed justified.

Though there are many critics voicing disbelief that the character Rockwell plays could have the kind of story line he ends up having. These same critics are also objecting to the actors playing people of color not having as rich and fully dimensional characters as the white actors (a charge I find reasonable but also missing the point of this particular piece of cinema art in which fantastic plot points and comic/tragic mashups explore the heavy-handed humor of tragedy as farce, not nuanced political analysis).

See it for yourself, and I think if you appreciate great film acting you'll be glad you did.  

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