“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” or, as I will be calling it for the rest of the review to avoid the overly long name, “Three Billboards” is written and directed by Martin McDonagh and stars Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Caleb Landry Jones, and Lucas Hedges, and is about a mother that puts up, you guessed it, three billboards, each of which depict her very strong opinions about how the police handled a case involving her daughter’s death.
The trailer for this movie looked incredible if I’m being honest, as I loved the dark tone mixed with a vulgar sense of comedy, while also tackling strong ideas about police brutality. Mix that with a very solid cast, and I became very excited to see this movie as soon as I could.
Frances McDormand gives a powerhouse performance in the lead role, as she is able to masterfully blend moments of laugh-out-loud comedy with truly powerful moments of emotion and heartbreak. It is rare to see this dynamic of a character, and McDormand truly nails everything that makes this character so unique.
McDormand is by no means alone, as the supporting performances by Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Caleb Landry Jones, and Lucas Hedges are all absolutely tremendous. Starting from the top, Rockwell follows in McDormand’s footsteps and plays a character that is equally hysterical and emotionally charged, and it was great to see his character change so effortlessly from start to finish, and in such a believable way. Harrelson gives a performance that was a bit surprising, as I didn’t expect his character to take the persona he ends up being just based on the trailers, but Harrelson nails everything about this character and makes Chief Willoughby a much deeper character than I would have ever expected. Landry Jones and Hedges both have much smaller roles, but they add just enough to make their characters intriguing individuals, as well as ones that are well-written and well-performed.
Martin McDonagh creates one of the best screenplays of the year with this film, as he manages to make every character much more layered and complex than I ever thought they would be, while also making a film that is consistently funny, witty, and brutally impactful all at the same time. This also has to do with McDonagh’s very smart direction, and the combination of this lively, powerful script with a consistently creative style of storytelling and direction makes “Three Billboards” a movie that never ceased to amaze me in nearly every aspect.
This has been said already, but I cannot overstate just how well this film manages to ride the line between stereotypical and genre-breaking so well at every single turn. These characters could have fit the clichéd dumb cops or clichéd angry old woman, but McDonagh and company never fall into these tropes, and instead, each and every crucial character transcends them and becomes believable people within the story.
The film editing is tremendous from start to finish, and the use of dark comedy mixed in with tragedy is something that I was absolutely floored by. McDonagh uses brutally depressing moments to show both the worst of these characters as well as the best and all while somehow finding places to crack jokes that almost never fail to get a huge laugh. There is never really that moment where the script falters and where the movie takes a rest, and it was amazing to see a director and cast really bring the best out of each other as the film progressed.
“Three Billboards” surpasses its ridiculously long name and becomes one of the best movies of 2017. Frances McDormand gives one of the best performances of the year, as do Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, and Martin McDonagh has made his first true masterpiece. This is a film that breaks and combines genres like no film has in a long time, and somehow comes out being one of the funniest comedies of the year, while also being one of the most powerful, emotional, and consistently enthralling film experiences in recent memory.
What did you think of “Three Billboards”? If you haven’t seen it (or heard of it), please do yourself a favor and check it out. Comment below with your thoughts.