Cert: TBC Runtime: 115 mins Director: Martin McDonagh Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Abbie Cornish
Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is LFF’s closing gala film. With a stellar debut with In Bruges and a decent follow up with Seven Psychopaths. McDonagh seems to be evolving to a new kind of genre. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri seems a lot grittier than any of his other works. What is it all about you ask? It’s been seven months since her daughter was murdered and foul-mouthed, tough-as-nails Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is fed up. Fuelled by grief and outraged that the investigation has gone quiet, she provokes the local police department with a series of messages plastered on three disused billboards outside her home town of Ebbing, Missouri. So begins a rapidly escalating and very public feud between Mildred and venerated community leader and family man, Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). The situation is exacerbated when blundering side-kick, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) gets involved. Just as unhinged as Mildred, but with a significantly lower IQ, Dixon’s penchant for violence is stoked by his leaden, borderline psychotic mother to whom he is unhealthily attached.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is probably the most un-predictable film I have watched in a long time. Martin McDonagh has made one of the finest dark comedies of our time. It may be his finest work too! McDonagh knows how to balance comedy with drama. One second you are crying with laughter the next you feel hollow and dead inside. McDonagh uses the 10 stages of grief so elegantly, the town’s anger grows towards Midred but as time goes by the characters evolve and find peace within themselves. McDonagh balances it so well in his screenplay and within the film itself. As for the actual visual look to Three Billboards, it has a very natural look to go with the aesthetic of the setting. But the heavy tint in the reds really show the issues that are within Ebbing.
McDonagh’s screenplay comes alive with a great ensemble cast. When you have multiple actors of such high calibre you wouldn’t expect any less. Frances McDormand gives one of her finest performances in many years. Mildred is as good as Marge Gundarson in Fargo. She is an utter bad ass and her search for justice is admirable. You can feel her pain, and her un-predictability make her a memorable character. Sam Rockwell provides another great performance for McDonagh. One of our finest character actors goes another level here. His journey is one of the stand out parts of Three Billboards. We would hope a supporting actor campaign will happen for Mr.Rockwell. Woody Harrelson, Caleb Landry Jones, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish all provide stellar performances. As mentioned McDonagh’s screenplay would be nothing without his actors. Three Billboards, Outside Ebbing Missouri is a worthy closing gala film at LFF this year. It’s what the cinematic experience is all about laughter, soul searching and heart. A very special piece of cinema indeed.