FILM REVIEW – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: Oscar winning performances in a superb movie

2017 was a fantastic year when it came to the movies that were made. From blockbusters, such as Wonder Woman and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to more independent films such as God’s Own Country and Call Me By Your Name and if all movies coming out in 2018 are going to be like Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, then 2018 will be an even more fantastic year for the movie industry.

Right from the start, we know that Three Bilboards will deliver something special but also something very dark. Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a divorced mother who’s still grieving the rape and murder of her teenaged daughter Angela (Abbie Cornish) seven months after the tragic events, is getting fed up with the police and the lack of the progress of their investigation. Angry and looking for answers herself, she decides to rent three neglected billboards close to her home, which read: “Raped while dying”, “And still no arrests?”, and “How come, Chief Willoughby?”. A message clearly intended for police Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) who’s in charge of the Angela Hayes case. As soon as the billboards make their appearances, things in the city town starting to heat up. It becomes clear what the movie will be about: A battle between the police and Mildred, who has taken the law into her own hands. Most of the citizens are on Chief Willoughby his side and the pressure on Hayes and her billboards increase to the point that people, including her own son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) are turning against her and demanding the abstracting of the billboards. As stubborn and determined as she is, Hayes doesn’t take the billboards away. Even after Chief Willoughby himself pays a visit to assure her that he’s doing everything he and the police department, in general, is doing everything he can to find Angela her killer. Things are getting even more emotional when Willoughby confides in Hayes that he’s about to die soon but that doesn’t seem to have an impact on her at all. On the contrary, she’s stepping up her game and turning even more people against her. The Ebbing police department makes it their priority to calm her down and while Chief Willoughby is dealing with his own personal problems, one of his co-workers Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), who has all the makings of a great policeman, steps in. A (violent) confrontation between Dixon and Hayes is inevitable. But how far can and will Hayes go to in the search for justice for her daughter? To what cost? A shattered family? A whole city is against her? Never finding the answers to what happened to her daughter?

Anger. Hatred. Revenge. But also hope and even a little bit of love. Three Billboards offers you a ride on a rollercoaster of emotions. Without getting over-the-top. Director and writer Martin McDonagh, who delighted us with movies such as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, definitely knows how to write a captivating story filled with layers of human emotions. One moment you probably show more sympathy for Mildred Hayes and her cry for justice while the second after Dixon and his violence might turn out to be just determination. Also, the very gripping topics such as a young girl being murdered and raped, having to deal with cancer and going through a very dark period of your life make us realize that we’re all the same, despite our different background.

At the beginning of the week, Frances McDormand was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role and that’s incredibly well deserved. She put on a magnificent Mildred Hayes who’s fearless, determent, stubborn and violent but who also can show compassion, love and maybe also forgiveness. She got nominated for a BAFTA in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category and that’s definitely no surprise to us. McDormand her co-star Sam Rockwell also got a Golden Globes in the category for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and we know why. His Jason Dixon is portrayed as a shy, sometimes also as simpleton but Rockwell made sure that Dixon never becomes a caricature. So hats off for that and for his overall great performance. We were also very impressed by Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby who shows understanding towards Hayes despite the fact she’s making his life a living hell at the moment. Both Rockwell and Harrelson are also nominated for a Bafta award as Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Incredibly well performed real and strong human emotions. A wonderful well-balanced story from writer and director Martin McDonagh as well as a magnificent cinematography and a very fitting soundtrack. We don’t see any reason why this movie wouldn’t be nominated for some Oscars as well. The Academy is probably very fond of this movie and so will you once you’ve watched it. So go and see it now!

Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter

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