Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ★★★★½

Most will probably say In Bruges is slightly better, but for my money this is McDonagh's best so far.

Wow, where to start with this one. How about the INCREDIBLE performances. Everyone is great, but Woody Harrelson is better. Sam Rockwell is better than better, and Frances McDormand is the best. Genuinely 3 of the best performances I've seen all year are in this film.

They give nuanced, layered, heart-breaking performances, and this is down to some brilliant writing. To say that these characters are three-dimensional and fully-realised is an understatement. Some of the character arcs, relationship developments, and even the depth and complexities that the most minor characters have are all testaments to McDonagh's excellent screenwriting abilities.

The storytelling is unconventional and unpredictable, but every time the story takes an unexpected turn it always feels right somehow, like it was earned; not just there for shock value.

This is easily McDonagh's darkest film yet, and while there is humour, it's probably the film of the three that focuses on laughs the least, particularly in the second half of the movie.

The general film-making is very good too, from inch-perfect shot composition to a single-shot scene that was so incredibly well done I'm not even sure how they pulled it off.

There is some excelllent use of symbolism too involving a badge, and a much simpler more fleeting use of it near the beginning with a bug, and add to that a fantastic use of foreshadowing.

McDonagh obviously did his research on all things billboards, and some things law. It shows.

The only flaw I have with the film is that the ending didn't tie up every loose end, arguably the most important loose end, and while this diversion of story beats and plot evolution is usually refreshing, there's a point where it becomes jarring. This is that point.

I'll also say that I can't see this having much rewatchability with it being so dark. Not a flaw but worth noting.

Other than that, a near-flawless film, one of the best of the year and McDonagh's best so far (IMO). Most will probably put it above Seven Psychopaths but below In Bruges.


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