I cannot remember having as enjoyable a time watching a movie in a theatre as I had watching Martin McDonagh’s latest film, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. While that may seem hyperbolic, the sentiment is sincere — this movie is fantastic.
Now, writing about the fun I had watching this film may seem odd, especially after reading a quick synopsis of the film’s plot. A woman (Frances McDormand) takes a stand after the inept police department have made no arrests in the case of her daughter’s murder. Based on that, it would seem that this is fairly grim tale. It is a testament to McDonagh’s wit and creativity that he is able to take what would ordinarily be a sombre story, and created a hilarious and affecting romp that packs many punches—both figurative and literal.
Though McDonagh’s screenplay and direction are imperative for the film to work as it does, the film’s esteemed cast is a huge reason for the film’s overall success. McDormand is impeccable as Mildred Hayes — a reversal from arguably her most famous role as the reasonable and polite police chief Marge Gunderson from the Coen Brothers’ Fargo (1996). Here, McDormand fights against the police department as Mildred, an exceedingly fierce, tough, cunning, and often rude woman who will cross any boundary to gain justice for her daughter.
The rest of the cast is made up of heavyweights, including Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Peter Dinklage, each of whom brings their all to the film. Sam Rockwell is the stand-out for me, and yet again proves himself to be one of Hollywood’s often overlooked but best actors.
To preserve the experience, I will not divulge too many more details about what really makes this movie stand out, as my viewing experience was definitely heightened by coming in mostly blind. I will say that this pitch-black dramedy has as much poignance as it does offensive language, and some scenes may not be for the squeamish or faint of heart. However, as the film was the winner of TIFF’s Grolsch People’s Choice Award, it seems to have resonated with audiences across the festival the same way it has for me, and I look forward to seeing the film continue to blow people away once it hits cinemas.