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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Film Review

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by Jonathon Tonkin (subscribe)
I'm a 26 year old male Senior Reporter for Weekend Notes. I Graduated from A Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Communication) at UniSA in 2014. As well as writing for WN I have also done pieces for the Adelaide 36s and Mawson Lakes Living.
Published December 21st 2017
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is written, produced and directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths). It's a mixture of black comedy and crime drama that draws audiences in with tense emotional scenes dispersed by bouts sharp witty dialogue. Three Billboards delivers its message with a knifes precision as the feelings of anger, violence, grief and loss are washed over the audience.

Main actors Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, present three distinctive, touching and conflicting characters all dealing with their struggles in an explosive and forceful manner. Each and every character in this film is filled with quirks and mannerisms that make them instantly personal and individual. These characters are superb. Three Billboards is a definite film to elicit a powerful reaction from all cinemagoers.

Three Billboards follows Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a mother, whose daughter was raped and murdered. Seven months later, the cops don't have any leads or suspects. Unsatisfied with the police efforts, Mildred purchases three billboards on a seldom used road, just outside Ebbing. The billboards describe the crime and question why the police are not doing anything. This starts off a series of escalating conflicts as Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) attempt to convince Mildred to take the billboards down. All the interactions between these characters are direct and purposeful.

Martin McDonagh has produced a film that takes a serious subject matter and treats it with the utmost respect while at the same time delivering well-timed comedy and amazing characters. Detail is the key in this film. Characters mannerisms, the way they walk and talk, minor changes in expression are all a key feature of McDonagh's style. You can tell that a lot of love and care has gone into each scene. The actors find an easy chemistry with one another and dialogue flows in scenes with a smooth rhythm and beat. Donagh follows the core principles of good storytelling. Bookending the film with the same piece of music, good use of silence and sound to create different emotional reactions and good framing and camera work, including a fantastic one shot where Rockwell,s character unleashes his anger against those who have harmed the police force.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri, Fox Studios, Film, Review
Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes

This style of film is one in which the actors need to pull out everything they have to make it work. Frances McDormand has gone over and above what's expected to create a multi-faceted, conflicted character. The character has an immense anger and fury directed at a number of parties which is fuelled by grief and guilt over her part in her daughter's death. McDormand portrays this with ease in which may be her best performance since Fargo. Sam Rockwell also contributes, playing a sympathetic antagonist who at first seems to be a drunken comedic relief but who ends up becoming much like Mildred in many ways. Each and every minor character has been given a touch of eccentricity and a whole lot of personality. There is not a single interaction in this film with isn't engaging, or funny, or apprehensive, or all of the above. Pace and mood changes can be abrupt or emotional pressure can continue along a few scenes.

Three Billboards is a masterclass in characters and acting. There is so much love, rage and passion in this film it can sometimes be hard to handle. If you wish to see a film that is also an experience and journey, I would recommend this in the New Year. Three Billboards comes out in cinemas everywhere New Year's Day.
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Why? For an intense, emotional dark comedy.
Where: Cinemas everywhere
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