Release: 21st May 2018
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
American dark comedy drama in which a mother becomes frustrated at the local police force’s ineptitude to solve her daughter’s murder. When no potential perpetrators have been identified and the investigation slowly grinds to a halt, Mildred (Frances McDormand) takes matters into her own hands to ensure that the media, local citizens and the police take her plight seriously and find her daughter’s killer.
Mildred, a grieving mother, goes from eating her breakfast to being throttled by her estranged husband Charlie, who in turn is held at knife point by their teenage son Robbie. Everyone looks fit to kill the other, expletives are flying, and forehead veins are bulging. In a flash the tension dissipates, everyone smiles and Mildred returns to her cereal. Welcome to the world of Martin McDonagh; a place where even the darkest of human moments can turn on a dime. This is NOT your usual Oscar bait.
Inspired by similar true events, namely three mysterious billboards McDonagh saw many years ago, here is a film that has been in the works for a while; and it shows. There is rarely a wasted scene here, little to no pointless dialogue or character direction. In the words of Austin Powers villain Goldmember, Three Billboards is as tight as a tiger. At its core is, as you no doubt know, a powerhouse performance from Frances McDormand. Not since Heath Ledger donned a purple jacket and face-paint, has an actor so aggressively dominated a feature this deftly. It is a performance that runs much deeper than being a bulldog eating a wasp. Mildred is wounded, she is vulnerable and scared. Her tough exterior, signified by a boiler suit and headscarf, is a reactionary measure to deal with the harrowing rape and murder of her daughter. Yet her tongue is as sharp as the dialogue she spits at any poor bugger stupid enough to get in her way. It is a meeting of talent, source material and directorial vision in an aligning of the stars. To batter an already tired cliche; lighting in a bottle.
McDormand is not alone though, as both Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell light up the screen, with Rockwell particularly perfecting his hick with a heart shtick as the affable racist Dixon (two words that could only work together in a McDonagh joint).
Three Billboards is likely to strike some as too subversive for a few, and oddly poe faced for others. But for the rest of us, there is a fresh and engaging window in to the world of grief, hope and small town rural America.
Film Grade: A-
The accompanying Deleted Scenes are passable, but the true gem is a copy of McDonagh’s award winning short Six Shooter.
Special Features Grade: C-
Dark, funny, life affirming. Here’s a film that shows behind every asshole is a human being.