Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell
Director: Martin McDonagh
Running Time: 115 mins
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an American film about a woman who, months after having heard nothing about the investigation into her daughter’s death, sets about challenging the local police into getting the case solved.
This is one of those films that you can just get completely wrapped up in, following all of the thrilling drama and stunning performances from beginning to end, wishing that it won’t finish. As an expertly written, brilliantly acted, riveting, emotional and funny film throughout, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a truly fantastic watch, and even manages to impress when it’s not the film you expect it to be.
If there’s one thing that really shines here, however, it’s the lead performance from Frances McDormand. The woman who was so brilliant in Fargo as the kind and cuddly police officer, McDormand goes to the other extreme in this film, but puts in such an impressive and endlessly thrilling performance that you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen whenever she appears.
Playing a woman frustrated with the lack of police action on the case of her daughter’s death, she’s absolutely brilliant in playing a character who’s completely lost her rag. Foul-mouthed, hot-headed and angry throughout, you never know what she’s going to do next, and McDormand matches up to that unpredictability fantastically with her performance.
However, what I really liked about the performance, and the character in general, was that she wasn’t just an extremely angry woman. While McDormand plays up the frustration brilliantly, she does it in a way that you’re still able to see the deeper, human side to her actions. Throughout, a couple of small but very tender scenes show her true, caring side, making her all the more understandable as a character, all the while further showing how the lack of action on her daughter’s case has turned her so angry.
In fact, that’s what I liked most about this whole movie. On the outside, it’s a very dark comedy, with foul-mouthed and angry humour throughout that’s just as funny as it is unsettling, but on the inside, it’s a film with an incredibly surprising amount of heart. Yes, some of its themes are rather gritty, but rather than being a film that just focuses on watching a woman lose control, it offers up some really interesting and emotionally deep insights into the lives of the people in this small town.
In that, the film isn’t just about McDormand’s character. While she features in the central plot, we also follow the local police chief, played fantastically by Woody Harrelson, a police officer, played by Sam Rockwell, and a whole lot more. Each of the characters’ various stories all interlink with the billboards episode, thanks to the film’s brilliantly written and pretty much watertight screenplay, but you still get a variety of insights into various people’s lives, and in that a collection of rather emotionally powerful moments, that reinforce how this film is about so much more than just one woman and her anger.
Director and writer Martin McDonagh does a stunning job here, blending the film’s dark comedy aspect seemlessly with the more tender and emotional side, something that you don’t see all that often. Much like one of his previous films, In Bruges, the writing is absolutely on point throughout, with fantastically funny dark comedy from beginning to end, however with that deeper, more emotional side to things, Three Billboards is an even more impressive, and along with those stunning lead performances, it’s ultimately an absolutely mesmerising watch, which is why I’m giving it an 8.6.