Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri

Three Billboards is a drama crime film by Martin McDonagh, (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths). This film is a very dark film from the offset, with it having many sad and even to an extent deeply upsetting moments in the film, (even ones bringing a tear to my eye). However, it also has a sense of determination that is shown through the characters, which is almost inspirational, as well as a few comedic moments. This sense of determination is shown through Frances McDormand’s character of Mildred, as she continues to search for her daughter’s killer months after the case has gone cold, never giving up hope of finding him. Much like McDonagh’s other works the character of Mildred is wonderfully 3 dimensional, as she is portrayed as strong and tough, sometimes even too much so, but the motivation for why she is like that is so believable and understandable that you don’t question it for a minute. What’s more, she is also shown to have a vulnerable side, which she displays during a few exceptional emotional scenes. McDonagh’s other recurring collaborators are also back, with both Rockwell, Harrelson and Cornish (all from Seven Psychopaths). Whilst her character is only very minor Abbie Cornish’s Anne shows one of the most accurate portrayals of grief I’ve seen in a long time, as well as being a memorable character. Furthermore, her character is the best embodiment of what this films keys themes are, with said themes being grief and trauma and the way on after that. Rockwell’s character of Jason is easy to hate within the first hour and of the film, however where the genius of McDonagh’s writing comes in is that he isn’t left as a 2-dimensional villain, by the end of the film we see him as a man who is deeply flawed but is trying to better himself. Finally, Woody Harrelson’s character of Chief Willoughby, is the emotional core of the film at least for me personally, as he is easy to root for, and you do feel bad for him in the early stages of the film you really do, but that is where this film is at its best, in the moral quandaries. Such moral quandaries are things like, how far is too far? With who to blame for tragedy is another strong one. This film very intelligently communicates its themes and message to the audience, without the need to rub it in, as many other films do, or making it blatantly obvious. The score for this film is also very impressive with it being able to capture this idea of small-town America near perfectly. The character of Penelope, played by Samara Weaving, is easily my favourite character of the film. Penelope is the 19-year-old girlfriend of Mildred’s abusive ex-husband. the reason her character works so well is that she is a comic relief character, as she is inserted into a few very tense scenes where she manages to not refuse the tension with her comedy but elevate it to another level. Her character along with near everyone else, are testaments to McDonagh’s writing ability. That brings me to my only criticism with the film, and that is Peter Dinklage’s character of James, unlike everyone else who’s character serves a purpose, James felt like a plot device in one specific scene, in addition, his inclusion felt not needed and oddly out of place at times.
Overall this is a well written, well-executed triumph and everyone should see it, for the great character and great moral questions.
Reviewed by Luke.

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