Three Billboards, outside Ebbing Missouri

Directed and Written by Martin McDonagh

Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Peter Dinklage, Zeljko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Clarke Peters, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Kerry Condon, Sandy Martin, Kathryn Newton.

Almost a year after her daughter was raped and murdered, and still with no arrest, Mildred (McDormand) hires three billboards on the outskirts of her hometown calling out the police for their inaction; pointing the attention to the Chief (Harrelson). Tension in the town mounts, with support of the Chief, who is dying of cancer. Will her plan uncover the killer?

Absolutely fantastic film making from the (almost) always brilliant McDonagh, who utilizes almost the entire cast his Seven Psychopaths cast here. It is a dramatic whodunit, with so many potential ‘maybes’ that as the movie progresses you desperately do (or don’t) want the killer to be revealed.

While both McDormand and Rockwell won (and deservedly so) Oscars for their mesmerizing performances, to me the MVP goes to the astonishing performance of Harrelson. Here he plays the empathetic Chief, battling end stage cancer – who has a loving wife and two small children – called out to finish the case. His arc is truly heart-breaking and is quite possibly Harrelson’s best performance.

The screenplay is flawless, with the powerfully dramatic moments truly emotive. I don’t normally get too emotional when it comes to fictional characters, but there was a moment here that I actually got choked up on. There are also some darkly comedic moments to break up the tension, which is typical of McDonagh.

The cinematography by Ben Davis is brilliant, and while the town of Ebbing is fictitious, the surrounding landscapes are used well at times (although a little under used). There are some great camera shots too, especially one moment in the film where there is a handheld tracking shot as we follow one character going across the street, up a flight of stairs and attacking two people.

The score by McDonagh (and Coen bros) collaborator Carter Burwell is on par his best work to date, and is edged out only slightly by In Bruges. The Soundtrack is complementary to the Southern setting.

There was little to nothing to fault in this film and it gets top marks, it is McDonagh’s best film to date.


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