••• The International Writers Magazine: Film Review
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish ...
This is the story of Mildred, a somewhat embittered woman who has lost her daughter to a violent rape and murder. The police seem to have done nothing to find the killer and she has been brooding about it for months. The answer for her is to hire the long unused billboards on the old road out of town to protest the police chief’s inaction in the investigation.
Mildred is a hard woman, divorced, left to raise her teen children alone as her ex-cop husband has gone off with a pretty 19 year old. It’s a story that could happen anywhere and most likely does. The difference here is the excellent script and wonderful performances of the main protagonists. see
One of my favourite irreverent movies is Martin McDonagh’s ‘In Bruges’ and if you know that you will quickly warm to very real colourful characters who speak their minds without restraint. The billboards blame the police chief Willoughby, sympathetically played by Harrelson. He’s a popular man in town, dying of cancer, whereas Mildred is too opinionated to be popular and even more disliked for attacking the chief whilst he is dying. Add to the mix a racist, homophobic cop still living with his mother and you have an interesting dynamic. Sam Rockwell’s performance as the cracker cop Officer Dixon is particularly well realised and you want to hate him, but he literally transforms as the movie progresses. Chief Willoughby has a perfect family with a beautiful young wife (Abibie Cornish) and two cute kids and that adds to the poignancy of the situation. But has he done enough to find the rapist? Have the billboards made a difference?
This is a human drama told with wit and style and never for one moment do you not believe these are real people working through the motions of a tragedy. I was a little surprised that most of the other women in the movie were portrayed as ditzy intellectually challenged creatures, but I suppose that is deliberate to contrast with Mildred's measured barbs. It was nice to see Peter Dinklage again (Station Agent and In Bruges). One comes away from the cinema feeling you have seen something worthwhile for a change. I am not surprised it is up for Oscar’s and won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture. Frances McDormand delivers a bravura performance that has clearly resonated with audiences everywhere.
© Sam North - Editor Jan 26th 2018
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