Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Directed by Martin McDonagh, starring Francis McDormand, Woody Harrilson, Sam Rockwell and Lucas Hedges

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri was probably one of my most anticipated films and it exceeded my expectations. It blew the bloody doors off, which is what I tweeted shortly after the screening. I had the good fortune of seeing the premiere screening at the Ryerson Theatre where it received a very exhubarant and well deserved standing ovation.

The sharp script, with all the feels, is definitely McDonagh’s best. Sam Rockwell said during the Q&A that he often has to talk himself into taking a role, but in reading the script, with something happening on every page, it was what they refer to in the business as a “no brainer”. Francis McDormand joked ” You’re no Shakespeare, Martin” and he happily replied “Not yet” after which she started to stroke his arm.

I actually think he is a Shakespeare for our time. This is a modern day tragedy, bold and brash with a huge heart. There is lots of humour, compassion, plenty of violence and lots and lots of anger, and swearing, lots of swearing.  Do I believe Shakespeare would have dropped F bombs in his dialogue if he was writing today? Abso-f-ing-lutely!

In a nutshell, without spoilers, this is the tale of Mildred, a mother who has lost her daughter to a brutal rape and murder.  Many months later, the crime has no leads and the local police seemed to have filed the case away. Mildred has no patience for their apparent laziness and determined to shake things up, she shames the police department with three obnoxious billboards just outside the town. Lots follows, no spoilers here.

The characters are layered, and while many are brash, they have a sense of humanity and vulnerability that evolves throughout the story. Francis McDormand’s Mildred is really angry and above all heart broken. She conveys a rawness that any parent can identify with, although we would hope to never want to find ourselves in her shoes.  Her performance is flawless and it might be her very best. Sam Rockwell plays the Sheriff’s unhinged racist deputy in what is absolutely his best performance to date.  If this doesn’t earn the man an Oscar, I am not sure what will. Woody Harreslon is his solid self as the no nonsense, charismatic Sherrif.

I am very pleased that it won the People’s Choice Award in Toronto and is now destined to awards season for nominations in all major categories including screenplay, acting, cinematography, musical score and best picture.

I look forward to watching this again when it is released in theatres.

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