Tipped for awards success, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the third film from Irish comic Martin McDonagh and yet another off the wall masterpiece. Dealing with the fallout of a recent tragedy, Three Billboards follows a cast of eccentric characters and explores the tightknit hierarchy of small-town America through increasing discrimination and violence.
Balancing dark humor with gripping emotional drama perfectly, every member of this ensemble cast gives an award-winning performance and helps to create complex and memorable characters that keep the unconventional tone of McDonagh’s style but still work as real, raw individuals. The greatest moments too come from this dual strength of quirkiness and realism, creating an incredibly compelling film akin to the work of the Coen brothers. Frances McDormand’s captivating performance as a grieving mother pushed to the edge is, of course, worthy of all the attention it is receiving but it is supported up by equally powerful work from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell; a role for which he is finally receiving the awards attention he deserves.
With a dark and increasingly tense atmosphere, Three Billboards perfectly captures the contained chaos of a towns deep moral conflict; no characters are fully villainous or heroic, it’s in the exploration of that grey area where the film finds the source of its unique charm. McDonagh uses beautifully subdued imagery to present the quaintness of Ebbing before tearing down the illusion of idealized Americana to reveal the horrors underneath. While this creates a quite morbid tone, it does make for some intense confrontations and dialogue; the often offensively witty script acting as the root and reason for the film’s success.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri delivers on all fronts as a quirky dramedy with actual meat on its bones and the definitive movie of this year’s award season.