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Three Billboards Director Defends His ‘Deliberately Messy’ Racist-Cop Movie

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri director Martin McDonagh has begun addressing the backlash against the Oscar-nominated movie. Instead of responding to critiques that the movie doesn’t offer any meaningful development for black characters or takes place in a make-believe world where white, blonde teen murder victims are ignored by the 24-hour news cycle, or that it forces audiences to spend more time empathizing with racist and sexist characters instead of the victims of their racism and sexism, McDonagh has addressed the most basic complaint: Doesn’t Three Billboards redeem a racist cop character — known for “person-of-color torturing” — played by Sam Rockwell?

“[The backlash] mostly comes from the idea of Sam Rockwell’s character, who’s a racist, bigoted asshole, that his character is seemingly being redeemed, maybe,” McDonagh told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”

McDonagh wants you to know that he made a “deliberately messy and difficult film.” It’s not like all those other movies. “I don’t like films that everyone loves,” he said. “And we’re not making films for six year olds, we’re not making The Avengers. We’re trying to do something that’s a bit little more difficult and more thoughtful.”

Three Billboards Director Defends ‘Deliberately Messy’ Movie