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“Are you still torturing niggers?” – “You don’t say Nigger torturing no more, it is supposed to be persons of colour torturing.” When a film makes you briefly wonder whether this exchange is meant as a joke or whether the person saying it means it… then the film got you hooked. Sam Rockwell delivers the line, and despite the film revolving about Frances McDormand’s character and her odyssey to get her daughter’s killer arrested, it’s Rockwell’s film. I love that actor, even though I have not seen too many of his films. I do remember, however, how I was watching “The Green Mile” and even though I saw Rockwell for the very first time back then (I think), he has this handsome and fierce appearance that makes him the most disgustingly likable villain on the screen. Here he is caught in all of the textbook macho poses, until his career and his life get shattered, and even in his worst moments I feel I kind of want to hang out with him and maybe comfort him and help him get out of his misery. It would be a very funny night out, is my guess. The film allows him to slowly realise that what he’s doing, who he pretends to be and how his mother (glorious performance by Sandy Martin!) tried to shape him is a track towards solitude and misery.

After this little detour, back to the fact that “a film with Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson, directed by Martin McDonagh” is an almost perfect description of “This film was made for me in particular”. I am a big fan of McDonagh’s since “In Bruges”, the genre of “foul mouthed violent comedic thriller” that he excels in is what makes me smile. Or laugh out loud. When comparing the humour in “Billboard”’s actually quite bleak and grim setting with the pathetic efforts of outright comedies like “Girls Trip”, I feel I either do not get comedy, or I do get comedy, and I am very happy that “Billboards” has my kind of humour. The script is far from perfect, the twists and turns somehow more uncomfortable than the general tone of the film had called for (such as when the town’s attitude toward McDormand’s Mildred shifts after an incident with Sheriff Willoughby). At the end of the day, this is a low key drama with an unsmiling heroine that let me forget the flaws by sheer force of characterization, acting and – yes – a bunch of violently funny outbursts.


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