By Ian Crow

I love it when a film like this comes along. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one that came out of nowhere for me. I heard bits and bobs about the film and of course, have been intently following the Awards season and it’s a film that’s been knocking on the door. When I got the chance to catch the film early, I had to admit, I hadn’t even seen the trailer or knew what the film was about. My expectations of the film were necessarily high due to not knowing what I was about to see on the screen. All I knew was that it’s rammed full of fantastic actors and a good director in Martin McDonagh. What I encountered on-screen was a fantastic piece of work surrounded by an incredible ensemble performance from each and every one of the actors.

Frances McDormand delivers a heart pounding performance as Mildred, a Mother who challenges the police in her town after they failed to catch the person who murdered her daughter. Deciding to rent out three billboards just outside of town that haven’t been used in a long time, she uses them as a message to authorities to get back on the case. Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell both portray the local police in the town who have the issue with not dealing with the murder case properly, and the ever-growing media interest in the billboards outside of town. Harrelson and Rockwell always give strong and consistent performances when on-screen, but theirs are elevated to another level in these roles. A surprise direction for Harrelson’s character is an unexpected one but Rockwell’s performance is one that grows every minute on screen. It’s an evolutionary role that makes it hard to decide whether you want to love or hate his character.

Martin McDonagh, a director that takes time in releasing new content. With Three Billboards only being his third directorial film, it’s clear to see that we have someone with a whole lot of talent. Talented behind the camera, but it’s his writing that has to be acknowledged. To be able to throw in a very difficult subject matter or death, abuse and comedy mixed into one is a very hard thing to do. He’s been well-known for doing that in his first feature film In Bruges, one of my all-time favourites. The balance of these feelings squashed into this film seems to work perfectly. What made it even better is that the audience at the screening reacted brilliantly well to the twist and turns of the story.

It has to be one of my favourite character driven movies in recent time. Driven by deserved Oscar nominations for all three lead actors, Three Billboards is one that you cannot forget overnight. There isn’t much wrong with the film either, it’s one of those films that delivers on every level and doesn’t disappoint. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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