By: Movie Snurb (A Toast) –
Three Billboards is a dark comedy about Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a single mother whose daughter was brutally raped and murdered months earlier. There are three billboards on a road outside her hometown of Ebbing, Missouri that are not being used because no one uses the road. She decides to take out an ad on the three billboards stating: “Raped While Dying”, “And Still No Arrests?”, “How Come, Chief Willoughby?”. As you could guess this causes quite the stir in this little town where Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) is highly respected and seems like a genuine good man. It’s a dark comedy, but a thought-provoking and deeply emotional film.
Martin McDonagh’s third full length feature film is his best film yet. McDonagh started as a playwright and that comes through in his films. He is an actors’ writer; he writes such brilliant roles and delicious dialogue for his cast it’s no wonder they turn in such brilliant performances. Martin has an ability nearly unmatched in Hollywood; he’s able to find humor in the darkest of moments. That’s not to say that he makes light of rape and murder, but that the dark situations he creates can cause humorous moments. For instance, Mildred bursts into a police station and calls a police officer “Fuck Head”, who responds without thinking. You still are aware of the tragic happenings, but your eyes are full of tears from laughter. Martin McDonagh is a brilliant writer and director; writing the perfect roles for specific actors is a recipe for a great film, and Three Billboards is not a perfect film but it is a great film.
When a character is written for a specific actor in mind that usually leads to masterful performances, unless the writing or actor is awful. Thankfully that is not the case for Three Billboards. Martin McDonagh has said that Mildred Hayes was written specifically for Frances McDormand. Initially she didn’t want to take the role because she thought a 58-year-old woman wouldn’t have a 16-year-old daughter. After some thought and a “gentle” push from her husband Joel Coen she decided to do the film and thank God she did. There is no other actress that could’ve pulled off the foul mouthed badass that Mildred was. She is a far cry from her Oscar-winning role as Marge Gunderson, however she is back at the top of her game. You feel for Mildred’s situation; she still has a son at home in high school, her ex-husband used to beat her and now dates a 19-year-old, and now her billboards have brought a lot of negative attention to her family. McDormand is able to show her full range of emotion in every scene because of her tragic backstory. It’s sure to be an iconic character and Frances deserves every award she has coming her way.
The other standout in this film, aside from the whole cast, is Sam Rockwell as Jason Dixon. Dixon is like Ebbing’s village idiot who is on an angry power trip. We find out he tortured an African-American inmate. So Dixon isn’t really respected in Ebbing and with good reason, he’s kind of an idiot, and an asshole to boot. Rockwell has always been at his best when he is allowed some room to go a little crazy. When he is given the wiggle room to play around with his character it’s a marvelous thing to watch. Dixon’s character arc is a great thing to watch- he’ll go from an asshole you find funny but ultimately don’t like to cheering for him in the end. Rockwell has given us some dazzling performances: Moon, Seven Psychopaths, The Way Way Back, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, & The Green Mile. I would say this is definitely Sam’s best performance and hopefully leads to an Oscar nomination because that is well overdue.
This is a very timely film, which could play major role in it’s Oscar chances. With everyone who has been coming forward and outing the predators in Hollywood and in other places. Three Billboards is a great film with a strong female lead who is looking for justice for her daughters’ rape and murder. Hollywood is trying to get more diverse in their filmmaking and this film gives us a strong female lead, looking for what so many women are looking for today with Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, James Toback, and many others. This film could be the statement that the women in Hollywood want to make with a Best Picture win; We aren’t taking your shit anymore!
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the best films of 2017. It’s highly emotional, tragic, hilarious, and masterfully acted. It’s a film not only about rage and revenge, but on learning how to forgive and moving on, but never forgetting. It’s a lesson that the entire world could use, maybe if they did, there’d be much less anger and violence in this world.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: every time Mildred reeks havoc.
Do a Shot: every time Dixon assaults someone or is assaulted.
Take a Drink: every time we see the billboards.
Take a Drink: for every racial slur.
Lastly throw down a Beer: if you have any unresolved anger you need to let go.