First of all, there is a lot of profanity in this movie. It’s R rated. But as a morality play, it’s probably the movie of the year. And it deals with fundamental issues anger, even righteous anger, and also, but to a lesser degree love and compassion and forgiveness. Anger drives the action in the movie and there are few characters that you find really very likable. Nevertheless, like watching King Lear or even Othello, this is a movie well worth seeing and pondering. Its not so subtle message is that anger and rage and acting on those emotions almost always begets more anger and rage. It doesn’t really solve the problem that created the anger in the first place.
Consider for example all the quite justifiable anger of the girls against Dr. Larry Nasser, and his monstrous abuse of so many young women. Listening to those testimonies involved some catharsis, but anger that doesn’t become something else ends up damaging the person who is angry, and sometimes it just bounces off the oblivious person one is angry with. Unending, unresolved anger causes one’s soul to shrivel up and one becomes what one despises. It does not achieve its aim. But, sometimes an expression of righteous anger can be healing for the one expressing it, and give someone a sense of closure as well. ‘Do not go gentle into that good night…. rage… rage’ to borrow a line from Dylan Thomas.The acting performances in this film which is a little less than two hours long, are superb all the way around from Francis McDormand who deserves the Oscar to Woody Harrelson, who should also win some awards to Sam Rockwell as the ‘dumb cop’ and so on. This movie, if you really probe it, is complex, and like life it is ambiguous and complicated. Things are not tied up neatly with a bow at the end of the film, but then, that’s the way of a fallen world, now isn’t it? There is suspense, there is action, there is anger aplenty, and yes some glimmers of hope and love and forgiveness. At the end of the movie, you feel relief, but also the sheer blunt honesty of the film quite rightly slaps you in the face and says— ‘wake up’, life is often not fair, never mind just or merciful.