This feels like the best Coen Brothers film in years, except it’s not. Instead we have the great Martin McDonagh mixing comedy and violence in such a spellbinding, grounded, and witty manner, we are once again reminded of the In Bruges director’s brilliance. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri showcases what McDonagh does best, but with added poignancy and distinct viewpoints from a woman taking charge in the face of male incompetence. A theme American cinema had usually avoided, is finally making its voice heard throughout all of society.
For Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri the timing of its release feels purely fortuitous, even if everything that makes it so significant comes from faultless writing, characterization, and the majestic performances from actors reveling in the material provided. But being that the film deals with a rape and murder case lethargically handled by a police force more intent on violence, gives the film a keen robustness that stays with you for days. Especially because McDonagh builds the film to such a subtle, but powerful crescendo that has you pleading for more.
Indeed, McDonagh is one hell of a conductor, but what truly makes this film sing is the performance of Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes. In this portrayal, she epitomizes dignity, satire, passion, and dominance to a point where those superlatives don’t even do her justice. Essentially, the Academy might as well give McDormand her second Best Actress award right now. In years past I’ve claimed performances as the best, prior to changing it after seeing movies still yet to be released…but that will not happen for the wild year that has been 2017 (reference back this review if I’ve lied). Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson also captivate in superb roles which could land them each a nomination, as well as cinematographer Ben Davis.
The movie’s only scanty weakness is a bit of unevenness which develops in the first hour (I am nit-picking here), that ultimately gets forgotten as a result of the films numerous accomplishments. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri balances a supply of boundless laughter with moments of anguish better than any movie in recent memory. A unique and complex take on small town America with irony’s that coincide with our actual reality- this film will be talked about, dissected, and revered for years to come.
By Brandon Colón