I wonder what this one is about.

Milo here.

And he’s comin’ in with the first movie review of tha year!!! Hope you guys have had a good start to 2018 and enjoyed ALL OF OUR ROUND-UPS. ALL OF THEM (+ one more I got on the weekend xx). Of course, as I’ve written nothing but those round-ups for the better part of a month, this might not be my best review, so be kind. Please. God. Please.

From director Martin McDonagh, known for In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, comes his most proficient effort yet. 7 months after her daughter is raped and murdered, Mildred (Frances McDormand) rents space on THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (get it?) to personally challenge the police department (particularly Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson)) to solve her case. What follows is the hilarious, thrilling, and sometimes tragic, repercussions of her actions.

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Frances McDormand is a fantastic actor, but a useless question mark…

From his previous two efforts, McDonagh has become one of my favourite directors, with a very efficient and striking style, not unlike Edgar Wright for comparison. It’s obvious, however, that, with Three Billboards, he’s taken what he’s learnt from In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths and applied it to a film with a lot more gravitas and dramatic power. His keen, on-the-ball, visual style remains untampered with, however, and, along with DP Ben Davis (Layer Cake, GotG, Doctor Strange, Seven Psychopaths, the list goes on — this guy’s good), creates a film with an aesthetic almost as gripping as the plot itself.

Along with directing, McDonagh also took on sole writing responsibilities, with a script that is both hilarious at times and really poignant. Unlike his previous work, the director has added a real depth to the script of Three Billboards. Sure, at times, I can see the film being one of the funniest of the year (and we’re only 4 weeks in), with McDonagh’s trademark profanity-laden one-liners coming in full throttle. Moreover, if I could fault the film, it would be that I’d loved to have seen a little more of that dark comedy. However, the emotional heaviness is also surprisingly present, something which is emphasised even further with the performances.

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Of course, Frances McDormand (Fargo, Burn After Reading, Almost Famous) stole the show, particularly for me as one of my favourite actors in general. One of the most interesting facets of her performance is how it almost completely contradicts a lot of her biggest roles as a kinda sweet, quirky character, especially in Coen flicks. While her heart as a character is shown in glimpses (especially with a lot of the small directorial additions, as Reubs noted), her tough exterior is endlessly entertaining to watch. That being said, her recent Oscar nom for the role is extremely well-deserved, as she performs gut-wrenchingly well in every scene she’s in.

Joining her is another favourite of mine in Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, People Vs. Larry Flynt, Zombieland). Though the trailer may paint him as an antagonist of sorts, Harrelson’s perceptive performance, along with McDonagh’s writing, make him a character with a much deeper complex than meets the eye. Without spoiling the film, it’s safe to say that his dramatic chops are stretched a little further than in, say, Kingpin. Regardless, Harrelson also managed to blow me away with a performance that could only be out-shadowed by McDormand’s.

Finally, we have previous McDonagh collaborator Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths, Moon) as Dixon. Probably one of the main sources of comic relief, while also being a PRIME asshole a lot of the time, Rockwell plays a character, although similar to that of Seven Psychopaths, is much more intense and unpredictable. Though this goes for every performance here, it applies especially to Rockwell; the character development in Three Billboards is complicated and beautiful to watch.

In the supporting cast, we have Caleb Landry Jones (who impressed earlier last year in Get Out), Peter Dinklage and Lucas Hedges, among others. While they played a less central role to the plot, I loved how even the supporting cast had a real purpose, filling the world out further and making the story seem even richer.

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Marge v. Sarge — who’ll win?

From an A/V perspective, Three Billboards had a few questionable moments, though. NAMELY, A PARTICULARLY F*CKING CGI DEER THAT LOOKED LIKE IT WAS FROM 09 WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT, BURT. Honestly, it completely threw me how bad that deer was, that it drew from what could have been a really nice scene considerably. Apart from that, though, the homey Midwestern atmosphere of the entire film was a really nice touch, and also shows McDonagh’s versatility with location and feel.
Sonically, there isn’t much to note about the movie apart from it worked well. I don’t remember a point where I thought “damn, what the hell is violating my earholes right now” nor did I think “wow a cornucopia of wonderous sounds, a treat indeed”. It was fine, it was good, it was pfff.

To conclude, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was a really good flick. With superb direction from Martin McDonagh, which is only bettered by his writing, and a boatload of truly flawless performances, it’s not hard to picture this cleaning up at the Oscars, though I could slightly criticise it for some minor technical mishaps. Though I tend to prefer In Bruges thanks to it’s greater use of dark comedy, Three Billboards reining in allows it to grow into a more mature and accomplished film.

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85/100

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RANKING AMONG MARTIN MCDONAGH’S FILMOGRAPHY:
1.
 In Bruges (2008)
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018)
3.
Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations

Milo.

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One thought on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018) – Review

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