On Sunday night, my friend and I came to the decision that it was finally time we crawled out of the pits we students call beds, and head to our nearest Curzon to watchThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (McDonagh, 2017). We staggered in from the cold, with smuggled bags of popcorn, sweets and other junk we could manage to remotely hide as we flopped into our seats. Despite being told multiple times by a variety of people that the discovery of a 50p bag of popcorn stuffed under my jumper, will not lead to my dismissal from the cinema with my head buried in shame.
Nevertheless, the myth haunts me to this very day and I choose to walk in with the same sweat on my brow, as if I were walking through customs with a bag of heroine strapped to my stomach, instead of a bag of Nik-Naks from the corner shop.
Finally settled, I allowed my excitement to take over.
I have been eagerly waiting for a film that dares to delve down the tricky path that is dark comedy. Three Billboard executes the genre flawlessly and managed to send both my friend and I on a rollercoaster of emotions, discussing uncomfortable topics, exposing us to brutal violence and even accomplishing laughter here and there amongst the upsetting drama.
We follow Mildred Hayes, played by Frances Mcdormand, a stern, seemingly emotionless woman who demands justice over the painful loss of her daughter. Sadly, her daughter was brutally raped and murdered with not a peep to be heard from the police over catching the monster that inflicted such agony. Mildred begins to take matters into her own hands and sticks up three billboards to mock and encourage Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) to come out of hiding and find the culprit.
Of course Mildred’s act of vengeance brought attention from the media which only helped bring the case to light. However, the billboards also attracted negative attention and much backlash, especially from Deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an emotionally unstable and abusive character with mummy issues coming out the ying yang! Sam Rockwell’s performance has to be the most challenging and simultaneously, the most captivating throughout the entirety of the film. Without giving too much away, Rockwell manages to make the transition from a notoriously hated, senseless being to an empathetic and caring character seeking redemption.
However, it seems that the film did not hold a real ‘hero’ so to speak. McDonagh has produced multiple characters who are flawed and enduring the suffering that life, unfortunately, has to deal out in one form or another. I think that’s what I enjoyed the most, the fact that you were able to connect with a majority of the characters because of the realism they portrayed and how they all dealt with pain and grief in their own individual way.
I think it’s safe to say that Mildred can be regarded as the epitome of girl power throughout the film. Her straight faced, determined, ambitious, don’t f**k with me attitude truly places her above all the men that attempt to stand in her way. She chooses to ignore and challenge those that argue her approach is too cruel, such as her abusive ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes), Chief Willoughby and Deputy Dixon. Mildred’s drive and spirit fuels the story to the point where the audience almost feels the need to jump on the bandwagon of the fiery rage that burns within her and demand justice. Mildred pulls out a massive two fingers towards the naysayers and sticks to her gut, despite those closest to her attempting to sway her decision at any given opportunity.
Although sad at times, McDonagh has carefully balanced the melancholy with wittiness so hopefully you will not be put off and think the story is nothing more than bleak and depressing. Nonetheless, there is a light at the end of tunnel and I hope that light leads to an Oscar!