Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Cinema has been exquisite this January. Molly's Game told the fascinating true story of a woman who ran her own private gambling club and made her millions before facing up to the law. The Darkest Hour recounted Churchill's life as the wartime Prime Minister, the tough decisions he had to make, and the personality behind the great orator. The Post and Maze Runner are next on the list.
Three Billboards, as it will be referred to going forwards (the name is a discussion in itself), stood out because it was odd. It defied quite a few usual attributes of a film. It was difficult to define a linear plot, the characters were impossible to judge, and the ending...Spoilers will be kept to a minimum, but the ending was cleverly frustrating.
The film opens with the female protagonist, Mildred Hayes, buying three billboards. Not really a surprise given the title. But as we find out what the billboards will be used for, the film begins twisting and turning in unexpected ways. Very dark humour is scattered throughout its duration, but the star of the show has to be Frances McDormand's performance as Mildred.
She is incredibly angry, for most of the film. Most people probably would be with a murdered daughter and nasty ex husband. The best instance of this is when Mildred comes home to find the pastor talking to her son about the annoyance of the billboards, and tells him in multiple rude words, to get out. There has been interesting discussion around the entire film being a reaction to stuffy patriarchy with the presence of such a strong female lead.
Mildred's anger, though, makes the occasional moments when she shows her kinder side all the more endearing.
The ending suddenly makes sense when you stop thinking of the film as a murder mystery, and start think of it as a microscopic study of human relationships, consciousness, and tragedy. All of the main characters show multiple sides to them. Just when you think you've got Dixon nailed as the goofy best friend, he throws a man out of a window. Mad.