Martin McDonagh’s black comedy drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is well-written, well performed, and thoroughly engaging.
After months have passed since the murder of her daughter, Mildred Hayes is angry with the police’s lack of action. She takes out billboard adverts calling out the police chief, and gets everyone attention…
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has the same brand of dark humour that viewers may expect of the filmmaker. The film also has genuinely heartfelt moments. The film is about grief and acceptance, but it has a remit that goes beyond this.
Set in a small town, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri touches upon a number of aspects. Predominantly it is a film about Mildred’s search for justice, and her grief. Furthermore, a strand focuses on journey for Officer Dixon. It also speaks about police and their role in the community, albeit in a light-touch manner.
The narrative unfolds at a good pace. It is hard to predict where the film will go. Mildred’s desire for justice is always depicted in a sympathetic light, even when her methods are eyebrow raising. McDonagh’s film was never going to conclude in a neat way. The very end of the film projects a theme that runs throughout. This is partly a nihilistic futility, and partly a nod to the fact that things in life are often open-ended. However, this does not make the film bleak. There is Dixon’s journey broadly positive, for example, and there are elements of resolution to Mildred’s story too.
Performances in the film are excellent. Frances McDormand delivers a strong performance that is humorous, sympathetic, and sincere. Sam Rockwell is also excellent, as is Woody Harrelson. Good support is provided from Caleb Landry Jones and John Hawkes. The cast have an excellent screenplay to work with. The dialogue is great, and always appears natural.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is not McDonagh’s magnum opus, but is it still very a well made and immensely watchable picture.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is closing the BFI London Film Festival on 15th October 2017.