One of the few filmmakers that know how to perfectly handle a dark comedy is Martin McDonagh. Why? Because he’s a genius when he comes up with these original movies that end up being memorable. As the same guy who did In Bruges (still haven’t seen) and Seven Psychopaths (one of the most underrated comedies of the decade), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri should prove that he should be getting more work.
After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. The Billboards reads: “Raped while dying”, “And still no arrest?”, “How come, Chief Willoughby?” When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) — an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence — gets involved, the battle is only exacerbated.
From all the hype that’s been all around the film before this came out seemed like a safe bet that this will be worth checking out. The cast looked perfect, a talented writer/director, and an original story that doesn’t seem too crazy. And this was either going to be one of those dark comedies I will probably like, but not fall in love with too quickly. Shockley, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri can’t be missed out during this season.
Is there any real competition for Best Actress this year? Because if I was handing out Oscars this year in that category, I would give it to McDormand because her performance is the best she’s given since for Oscar-winning role in Fargo. Mildred Hayes is the kind of woman you sure don’t want to mess with. Standing up against the man with these billboards just showed that she has the balls to fully go against them. You automatically lean on her side and want justice to her life.
Harrelson, as Chief Willoughby, had a lot of moments that stood out. Since he’s the one whose name in one of the billboards, it’s his job to take control and understand that something needs to be done.
Rockwell has always been an actor that I consider underrated because though he’s given some memorable performances like in Seven Psychopaths, he doesn’t the credit he deserves. But his role as Jason Dixon is the best performance of his career. He’s this dumb, racist, bigot cop that pretty much doesn’t give a crap about law enforcement. With that, it gives him a story arc that was undoubtedly surprising.
McDonagh’s screenplay actually goes for a story that isn’t necessarily predictable. A lot of times where you think something will go one way, but honestly doesn’t. This also isn’t afraid to pull any punches with not going “politically correct” with some of the characters in this town. Kind of going for that In Bruges territory. And it’s also relevant in the sense that most murder cases aren’t solved without finding the corrupt. With that, it deals with the primary emotions of either feeling grief or anger (used in the most profound way) to get through this situation. Because when you hear someone dies, it makes you wonder that not everything can be helpful with feeling sorry for the griefers.
This is a standard dark comedy as shows in the humor which was very hilarious. When McDonagh’s name involved in anything, you’re gonna expected the type of comedy that’s going to be intended here. I didn’t expect myself to laugh that much because of the storyline. But the balance within the tone of the comedy and drama worked in its favor.
For flaws, I say the third act started to get bogged down in a few scenes and a few jokes didn’t either work or didn’t need to be included during certain moments. And I’m up in the air with the ending.
Besides those problems, this provided some strong performances and has its moments that change from being funny to being slickly dramatic with a drop of a hat. This might be my favorite McDonagh film he’s done. Honestly, this needs to be talked about for Oscars because this is one of the year’s best that won’t be forgotten.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri brought the combination of dark comedy and serious moments perfectly by an outstanding, unpredictable screenplay and memorable performances from McDormand and Rockwell, respectively.