Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Film Review

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (excuse the awful title) came top at the Golden Globes on Sunday and has scored nine BAFTA nominations today so you’re probably wondered what all the fuss is about, right? Well, see if it’s worth the hype in my review.

Frances McDormand is Mildred Hayes, whose daughter Angela was kidnapped, raped and killed months before. She believes that the police aren’t doing enough to solve the crime so she rents out three billboards on a barely-used road outside of town to grab their attention and to make sure people don’t forget what’s happened. The signs causes controversy in the small town, especially with the police, which includes Chief Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell).

This sounds like an incredibly dark and serious drama but it also surprisingly funny. The script is very smart and razor-sharp and it made me laugh a lot. Martin McDonagh has got the careful balance of dark and light spot-on, never letting the film stay serious for too long.

Mildred is the main source of humour, despite being a grieving mum. She is tough as nails and takes no crap from anyone and she has the most cutting and brutal putdowns, and you can’t help but laugh at her honesty. Willoughby is very sarcastic and Dixon is a bit thick – all good traits for comedy value. The comedy is never silly though – it is witty and observant and has a lot to say (especially about the police and their dealing with African Americans).

McDormand was the perfect choice for the role, I couldn’t imagine anyone else handling Mildred like her. The film wouldn’t be as good without her. Rockwell has played the fuck-up plenty of times, but Dixon gets a decent arc of his own, and goes from being thoroughly unlikeable to a sympathetic character. Harrelson is excellent always, and there’s great support from Lucas Bridges as Mildred’s son, Abbie Cornish as Willoughby’s wife, and Peter Dinklage as the town “midget”.

I feel like the title will put others off, like me, but it is such a good movie so I want to take this opportunity to encourage people to go. It has amazing dialogue, fantastic performances and is thoroughly enjoyable. It may well be my favourite Martin McDonagh movie (although I love In Bruges so it’s a tough call).

Originally seen as part of the 61st BFI London Film Festival. In cinemas on Friday 12th January 

Trackbacks

  1. […] trips, this time I was more there for Martin McDonagh‘s writing, as I loved his scripts for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and In Bruges and wanted to check out his stage […]

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