Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (dir. McDonagh)

Image: Frances McDormand & Sam Rockwell square off in Three Billboards. © Photograph by Merrick Morton. Property of Fox Film Corporation [Source: IMDB]


Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri directed by Martin McDonagh follows Mildred (Played by the illustrious Frances McDormand) as she challenges local authorities to get to the bottom of the case of her daughter’s murder.

Director: Martin McDonagh. Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell [15]

I’ll do a bit of a Public Service announcement here; This is a comedy. Do not do what I did and go in expecting a gritty crime drama. Why I expected this I’m not really sure, I’ve seen at least one of the directors previous work Seven Psychopaths (2012) and In Bruges (2008). I’m prefacing the review with this because I was a little thrown off during the course of this movie, caught by surprise by the dark comedy and not always for the best.

A couple of scenes in the film were and still are cringe-worthy with dialogue that belongs more in an adult movie. It made me laugh but I was not laughing with it, aside from a few scenes here and there the comedy is actually excellent and that’s how I’d recommend this movie to you – as an excellent comedy. The crime drama aspect of it all is at the forefront but still takes a back seat, you could almost certainly enjoy the film by not giving a damn about the plot and just watching these characters interact. For me the main take away is the characters, they are wonderfully realised by McDonagh and the actors playing them. As usual, Frances McDormand knocks it out of the park being equal parts tragic and brashly hilarious.

Sam Rockwell also delivers a usual superb performance honing his typecast as a ‘redneck’ but he also has the best character arc for any character in this movie. The writing is deliberately human, displaying the ugly truths and characters with ‘warts and all’ – no glossy heroes with no pitfalls, these characters are as real as they look.

McDonagh does a brilliant job of directing these characters and the story he wants to tell, we as the audience know that the film is not about catching the bad guy and solving the case, it’s about the people and ourselves. Which does bring a layered movie, although I said this was a comedy it certainly should not be dismissed as a good drama, there are some really touching moments, because it gets to this idea that people just are not just black or white, we’re all grey.

Three Billboards is a pleasantly surprising film, the writing is of the highest calibre when it’s doing it right but has its pitfalls in parts of the film leading to cringe scenes and disappointing plot points. However, it is still a superb character drama/comedy that is a tremendous laugh as well as touchingly real.

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