Maybe, just maybe, I should start watching these popular films more frequently. Everytime I’ve been pestered to watch a big Hollywood drama movie, I’ve done so in a begrudging fashion. But every time I’ve done it, I’ve been thoroughly surprised and enjoyed the experience at least somewhat. So that’s where Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri comes in. A strong cast of some personal favourites, directed by the guy that did In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, two of my favourite movies.
No surprise then that Three Billboards is some of Martin McDonaugh’s strongest work to date. So well written and performed, the film takes on a form of its own and becomes one of the strangest tales of the drama genre. One of the few movies where the performances alone can make or break the film, the cast work well in creating tension and really driving the emotional narrative home.
Frances McDormand rightly won Best Actress at the Academy Awards for this movie, with a very strong and daunting performance the whole way through. Definitely not her best work though, far from it actually. Her demeanor throughout the movie is outstanding and threatening, so the point it makes me uncomfortable. This uncomfortable tone is good though, it suits the rest of the movie very well – her development as a character is based solely on knee-jerk reactions and it’s a surprisingly strong way of filming.
Although this performance is superb, there is definitely a lot of love for both Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, who dominate pockets of the movie. Harrelson gives the best performance of his career here, as does Rockwell. Everyone seems to be on top form, with Rockwell playing a role I’ve never quite seen him play. It looks like he’s losing himself in the role a bit, and the bond between Harrelson and Rockwell in the early portions of the film is very good for the buildup of later acts.
I get the feeling I would’ve been happy with this winning Best Picture when it had it in its eye sight. Don’t get me wrong, The Shape of Water deserved it, and by all means did I love that movie, however Three Billboards hits all the right notes for me. An uncomfortable and tense drama but filtered by some strong characters and excellent direction.
Probably McDonaugh’s finest direction, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a superb drama with a great focus on character and plot over metaphor and meaning. A great character study that should interest any fan of the genre, especially those who like consistently strong direction and performances. It’s got me excited to see what McDonaugh will create next, so far his films are nothing but gold.