An outstandingly important film, Martin McDonagh’s new work has hate, rape and abuse as its key themes, those topical of late. With a script that holds the odd humour moment, typical of this director when you consider In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, there are short breathes of light-heartedness but on the whole is a heavy movie to stomach.
The front-running characters Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) and Dixon (Sam Rockwell) have this inability to let things go, which manifests itself to form a hatred not only of the world but also more significantly themselves, which has bred out of abuse and torment.
Focused around the rape and murder of her young daughter Mildred Hayes is entirely focused on getting the killer with no prospect of a culprit being found. With little in the way of concern about how her actions affect the rest of those of small town, Ebbing, she takes matters into her own hands, booking three billboards to give an amazingly blunt message to the local police about their inability to solve this case.
However, things in this town escalate, after ignorant deputy Dixon gets involved, and the film becomes a whole new level of dark, which is evocatively expressed through the grade and cinematography. It’s only mere moments (such as when Red Welby, after being thrown out the window by Dixon, offers a burnt Dixon a glass of orange juice) or the humorous dialogue that balance it from tipping too far into murky blackness.
With wonderful performances from Rockwell, a stalwart in the McDonagh films, McDormand and Harrelson, there is plenty of great characters to render it worthwhile to make a trip to the cinema. The casting of Abbie Cornish in this film seemed a little strange, with what seemed like an Australian accent, but we were not entirely convinced. With an amazing soundtrack to boot, which includes tracks by Joan Baez and The Four Tops it’s a must see at the moment, and will no doubt be in the nominations for many an award in 2018.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is screening at Filmhouse, Edinburgh until Thursday 1st February.