Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a dark comedy crime film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. It stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage,
The Story/The Direction:
This film is about Mildred Hayes (McDormand) who purchases three billboards to bring attention to the police after they stopped looking for those responsible for her daughter's rape and murder. These signs specifically call out Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Harrelson) and you'd think the battle between her and the police would be the center of this film. However, that is not the case and the police are not necessarily the baddies in this story. Mildred is shown to be possessed in finding her daughter's killer/killers. Nothing seems to stand in her way. Not the police, not the church, her ex-husband, or even her son's pleas. This film is not supposed to be an attack on police officers not doing their job even though that does occur. You'll defend one character one moment then attack it in another and vice versa. This movie's unpredictability is probably its strength as you really have no idea where its going thanks to its great script by McDonagh.
This is his third outing as director and writer after In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, both of which are fantastic if you have not seen them. He has got the idea of "dark comedy" down to a science. He is able to intertwine great comedic elements into a story that you would not think to laugh in as shown in those films and this film is no different. There is a scene in this film that involves Crips and Bloods that is beyond fantastic and that is not the only moment in this film. This script does not hold back and shows what life potentially would be in a small town in Missouri. There are words that are not politically correct being used along with a complete disregard towards rules. This world is not an easy place to live in and from the outside looking in, you don't know who is a villain and who is a hero. This is all due to McDonagh'sscript.
This film's characters is the biggest strength as it shows how life has been rough to all of them. None of them really have a totally good thing going for them. They are all respectively angry at their own situations and to go in to them specifically would be spoiler territory. As usual, Harrelson does great in the dramatic role and Rockwell's character arc of Dixon is good to see but the star of the film is McDormand as Mildred. She is able to take McDonagh's script and make it her own. Mildred does not hold back but you understand her as someone dealing with grief. You really see her pain one specific moment that involves her son and a fire. It is heartbreaking to say the least. This is perhaps her best role since Fargo. You see every single emotion running through her from sadness to anger to happiness and McDormand is absolutely fantastic. She does one of the best performances of the year in this role as there were many moments that were deserving of an applause.
As said earlier this film is not very predicable and the ending is no different. While this specifically won't be ruined for the readers of this review, it unfortunately left a bad taste as it seemed to be one scene short. This may be subjective but it could have been better. The other big flaw is the film's use of Rockwell's character. He is violent, racist, and definitely a copy of all terrible cops that beat down black men. While the majority of the script is good, the film seems to treat this topic more of a joke throughout the film. There are moments where characters joke about hurting black people and its brushed over. The way his character redeems himself seems lacking as it doesn't address the problem. He is motivated by Mildred and not the people he's tortured. This was probably not done in malice by McDonagh being from Ireland and not really familiar with how people of color are treated in the South. He may be completely ignorant to the horrors that people of color go through. However, he also may be just showing a realistic view of how certain people treat people of color. While this may be a realistic view, he treats Rockwell's character as one who redeems himself which really doesn't happen that much. He may be changing his ways but who knows if he actually does? He essentially only says "I'm going to change my ways." but you never really see him do so and he still apparently feels okay with beating black men which may be McDonagh's view. He acknowledges that it happens but does nothing about it at least not in a fulfilling way.
Due to this film being so unpredictable, the majority of the film feels fresh along with the humor intertwined with a dark story. It has great performances that really make this dark story, heart whelming. It is able to show a terrible situation that was forgotten over time because people lost interest. This is a great comment on society as a whole when something tragic happens in the world. People try to hide from and/or ignore these tragedies as it doesn't affect them directly. However when it is brought up again, it becomes a hard issue for them to deal with instead of dealing with/fixing the actual tragedy. This film was a great exploration of this and it has potential for Best Actress for McDormand. If you can get a chance to see this great film in theatres, you should. However if not, you should definitely check it out on Blu-ray or VOD.
Rating: 4.0/5.0 bowties
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