Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) – film review

12th January 2022 · 2010s, 2017, Film

Forget the fabricated controversy: everything about Martin McDonagh’s film is amazing – especially Frances McDormand.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

(2017, USA. 1h 55m)

Directed & written by: Martin McDonagh 

Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell


Oh my goodness…

I worry when everyone tells me something is fantastic – worry that it won’t live up to my by-now-high expectations and that people are just bragging because they’ve seen or heard something ahead of everyone else – but in this case they’re absolutely right.

Everything about this film is amazing – script, direction, acting, photography, music. And, as an unexpected bonus, exceptionally good use of the C-word.

You won’t see better performances than Frances McDormand, as a woman seeking justice for her dead daughter, and Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson as the small-town cops she believes to be standing in the way.

What’s most remarkable from writer-director Martin McDonagh is how nuanced the characters are. Despite widespread acclaim for them, I disliked “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths” for their cartoonish characterisation and flimsy plots.

This one is as taut as a noose, populated by good people doing bad things and seemingly bad people showing they’re capable of kindness: awkward, inconvenient. Just like real life.

Not that it’s remotely sentimental: it’s dark and furiously funny, especially Rockwell’s racist redneck cop, a tobacco-chewing mommy’s boy with anger issues, puzzled by political correctness requiring him to correct accusations of police “n*****-torturing.”

“You cain’t say that,” he complains sadly. “It’s persons-of-colour-torturin’ now.”