Possibly one of the worst titled films in recent history tells the story of a woman who hires out three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri to post a bold statement to her small towns police department regarding the murder of her daughter. Saying that I guess it’s not a terrible title in terms of the actual story, maybe more films should do it. Can’t wait to see “Group of superheros fight giant purple man” this May.
Upon reading the synopsis of Three Billboards, you may expect the film to be a murder mystery quest to find the killer. One of the films strengths is its ability to subvert your expectations, and it does that with the very type of film you are watching. Three billboards focuses on three characters, played by Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Each character is in the middle of a tough situation in their lives, and the film explores their individual ways of dealing with the circumstances they’re facing.
Anger is a key theme in this film, and how that anger manifests itself in each character, showing the effects of their actions on the people around them. The three actors are incredible, and each of them are worthy of the award nominations they have received. My favourite of the three is Sam Rockwell, whose character truly surprised me with the journey he goes on from the beginning to the end of the film.
Frances McDormands character is an absolute powerhouse, as is her performance. She owns the screen in every scene she’s in and provides some moments of levity in the face of horrible circumstances. Woody Harrelson is equally great in the film, and both them and Sam Rockwell do a great job of making the characters feel like real people.
That’s probably my favourite thing about Three Billboards, the characters and their reactions to situations all feel so real. The moments of levity punctuating the very tense and harrowing scenes are to keep Three Billboards from becoming a bit too depressing. It is very well done and keeps things from becoming too heavy at any point, something that is as valuable in real life as it is in movies.
The only major issue I have with Three Billboards is the ending, which is something most reviews seem to agree on. The film doesn’t satisfy the desires you have after sitting through two hours of the film, and it does leave you feeling a little like you want more from the conclusion.
On top of that, the only other minus for me is the pacing which slows and the film drags its feet a little and repeats a few points. It means we possibly could have cut 10 minutes off without losing anything from the film, and used them to flesh out the ending a bit more.
Three Billboards is a top quality film featuring some of the best performances of the year. I should also mention the excellent writing and direction of Martin McDonagh, who is a real competitor for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars this year. Its a film that will really make you contemplate a lot, and I really enjoyed it’s thought provoking nature.
Good: Incredible performances and a great look at how real people react in difficult situations.
Bad: Weak ending let’s the film down a little for me, and some slower scenes could wear on you.
8.5/10 – A brilliantly engaging film.