Now, McDonagh returns to write and direct this third film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and his strong sense for making the unlikeable likeable returns as we follow a small Missouri town in the after-math of an unresolved rape/murder case. The mother of the victim, Mildred (Frances McDormand), frustrated by the local police department’s incompetence, hires three billboards which she uses to call out Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) for not being able to finish he job and find the killer. These billboards cause uproar and controversy throughout the town, involving a series of notable figures to take involvement, including Willoughby and his partner Dixon (Sam Rockwell).
But despite the large amount of humour, most of the best moments unfortunately spoilt in the trailer, the drama shouldn’t be undermined. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a drama first, comedy second, a turn around from McDonagh’s previous efforts. There are rich, relevant themes of the social justice system, all while serving as a commentary on grief, prevalence and dealing with the loss of loved ones. When will the pain ever stop? And if no justice comes, at what point is enough enough? A lot of audience members may feel confronted by the startling subject mater, but it’s an important one nonetheless.
Once the third act rolls around, a tonal balance is finally reached, elevating this film to its brilliance that should’ve been met earlier, but even then, its lack of character arcs make for a frustrating finale. Sam Rockwell steals the show as a racist, douchebag cop who’s one fuck up away from loosing everything he holds dear, and part of the reason why he’s so great is because his character is the only one who receives any sort of personal development. He evolves and changes by the time the credits roll, while McDormand and Harrelson remain the same characters they once were.
I may not have loved this nearly as much as everybody else seems to have, but please, I implore you to check this film out. It’s a strange, twisted and original story that’s important and relevant, with so many memorable moments and lines throughout that’ll bring you to tears for both better and worse. McDonagh is a force to be reckoned with, and if his first three films have proven anything, it’s that he’s a talent the world needs to keep a sturdy eye on.
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