Friday, 12 January 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Dark comedy is my favourite genre and probably the most difficult to accomplish. It's not easy to keep an audience interested in the dramatic elements of a story while making them laugh. There's a man though, his name is Martin McDonagh, who has proved a couple of times (In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths) his ability to do such a thing. That is the man behind Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a twisted, dark, thought-provoking comedy as well as the best film of the year, in my humble opinion.

Seven months have passed since her daughter (Kathryn Newton) was raped and murdered and there's still no culprit so Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) makes the bold move to purchase three billboards with words written on them directly accusing chief of police William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) of having done nothing to catch the killer. Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a fuckhead/immature momma's boy, gets involved and a war begins between Mildred and the law enforcement.

Unfortunately, that does very little justice to the film's plot. A plot that is uncommon, mysterious, intriguing and so unpredictable that will keep you guessing and invested for its entire running time. The many brilliant twits are always placed at the right time. It's when you think you know where the story is going that it takes an unexpected turn (leaving you speechless for the greatness achieved). And then there's that ending, one of the best endings in cinema history and makes it one of the most powerful films of recent years. *SPOILER* Some may say it felt incomplete and unrealistic, that it left the audience there hanging, that it wasn't a satisfying ending. I say that is the perfect ending to such a brutal story. In the real world, there's really never an ending when it comes to rape, assault, or any other kind of violence.*SPOILER*

Apart from the brilliant story, the screenplay is filled with great dialogue (not a single line is wasted) and even greater characters. They are complex, developed and believable characters. We get to know their personalities as the story moves forward, and we get to see all of their sides. We see their vengefulness, their anger, their violence but also their sadness and their kindness. They are real people. 

Fox Searchlight Pictures
And the performances are superb. Frances McDormand gives such a powerful performance as  Mildred Hayes, a grieving and frustrated mother seeking for justice. She is able to deliver humour while showing on her face, especially her eyes, all the pain and suffering of the character. And she is surrounded by outstanding actors. First in line is Sam Rockwell who gives an extraordinary performance as officer Dixon, a short-tempered, sleazy, racist "man" who will perhaps find redemption. Woody Harrelson gives a strong and touching performance as chief of police William Willoughby, a character we want to dislike at first but whose humanity eventually wins us over. Some other actors are smaller roles and very little screen time, like Caleb Landry Jones and Lucas Hedges, but they still manage to shine.

Other than writing a masterpiece of a screenplay and getting extraordinary performances from everybody, Martin McDonagh once again delivers the perfect, a flawless combination of drama and comedy. He is able to balance them so effortlessly that each scene has the right amount of comedy and drama without neither of those feeling forced or out-of-place. He is able to get genuine laughs while building tension and suspense and delivering dramatic elements. He is able to make you laugh one minute, and make you cry the one after that.

In a few words, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a masterpiece.

12 comments :

  1. Wow! I have heard nothing but great things about this film and I really want to see it. I was wanting to go t9 the movies this eve but we are supposed to be getting freezing rain and snow so I doubt we will go anywhere.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that, although I envy you cause I want snow. Anyway, I hope you get to see this soon.

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  2. I haven't written my review yet, but I still stand firmly on the statement that the ending didn't work. I don't know why yet, I need to write my thoughts down, but I do think Rockwell was superb in this and it amazes me how he manages to be a favourite with such a shitty character. His charisma always shines through, and it's the character's growth in this film that helps along to this but I couldn't hate his character for one bit.

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    1. I'm sorry the ending didn't work for you.

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  3. Assolutamente d'accordo. Film immenso, dalla sceneggiatura granitica e dalla regia asciutta, attenta, senza una minima sbavatura. A tutto quello che hai scritto aggiungerei una cosa, ovvero la "mutazione" dei personaggi durante il film, che evolvono i loro caratteri e le loro convinzioni, dimostrando che il bene o il male sono concetti relativi e sempre condizionati dal contesto in cui si opera. Nessun personaggio è totalmente buono o cattivo, tutti hanno le loro cadute e le loro risalite, le loro possibilità di redenzione. L'uomo ha sempre la possibilità di riscattarsi, se lo vuole davvero...

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    1. Hai proprio ragione per quanto riguardo la crescita dei personaggi. A quanto pare mi sono dimenticata di parlarne.

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  4. Yay! You liked this as much as I did. I agree with you on the ending. I thought it was the perfect way for it to go.

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  5. I am so glad you loved this so much! Yes that ending is brilliant. It's so profound and very bittersweet, somehow uplifting even though it is very dark. I plan on writing about it soon

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  6. Adoro questo genere: difficilissimo ma splendido se ben equilibrato! Le aspettative sono molto ma molto alte. Lo recupero nel weekend, speriamo non deluda! ;)
    Un saluto,
    Fede

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