THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI – Review By Gadi Elkon

Academy Award winning Writer/Director Martin McDonagh has created a perfect blend of humor and rage that at the very least contains an Oscar worthy performance from Academy Award® winner Frances McDormand.  Enjoy my full review of THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is a darkly comedic drama from Academy Award® winner Martin McDonagh (IN BRUGES). After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Academy Award® winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, commissioning three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Academy Award® nominee Woody Harrelson), the town's revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement is only exacerbated.

Frances McDormand completely embodies the angry Mildred Hayes with a tremendous fire that turns a small town upside down.  The film easily can be looked at as a small mirror into our bigger world.  But either small or big the importance of McDormand's performance is key to the film.  The incredible quick wit of this down-home country woman comes from years of boiling pain and sorrow hidden in the small pot of Ebbing, Missouri.  As we learn more about Mildred's tough history with her husband (the former chief of the police and brilliantly played by John Hawkes) the more we understand her need to not lose this fight for her dead daughter.  Each conversation Mildred has with her fellow townsfolks is biting and screams of a deep seeded truth based in pain.  The humor is fresh and the rage is real.  The cast itself is a selling point.  Woody Harrelson's Chief Willoughby, Sam Rockwell's backwards Officer Dixon, Peter Dinklage's regular old James, Caleb Landry Jones (Garland's own!!) youthful ad man and Zeljko Ivanek's Desk Sergeant all encompass the normalcy of our society but showcase the twisted unnormal quality each character highlights in a McDonagh script.  Clarke Peters' Officer Abercombrie is a much needed breath of fresh air from the "outside" world that comes a little to late to truly stop the carnage unleashed by Mildred.  But Frances McDormand's most amazing sequences are with her characters' son Robbie.  Lucas Hedges performance as Robbie is the side of Mildred that is composed and capable.  His anger at his mother's actions seems truly understandable, but there is a moment where he stands up for his mother in the face of his father that deserves your viewing.  A son that defends his mother the way in which young Robbie does is one of the most admirable moments I've seen on screen in a longtime.  I won't spoil it, but that scene is something everyone should witness.  McDormand working with younger Hedges is a master class happening before our eyes.  McDonagh's writing has always leaned on the absurd but the heartfelt truth is never far from the insanity. 

           British DP Ben Davis is easily one of the real masters that may not be fully recognized.  From 2004's amazing LAYER CAKE Davis has been Director Matthew Vaughn's main man (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass).  He's worked with other fine directors like John Madden, Stephen Frears, James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Joss Whedon (Avengers Age of Ultron).  He first teamed with McDonagh on Seven Psychopaths and his subtle take for Three Billboards highlights the underlying sensibility of the film.  Davis' cinematography isn't as dramatic as some of those blockbuster action films and allows for him to take us on a more well paced journey.  Not that the film doesn't contain violence and entertaining sequences of action.  An epic fire sequence holds so much passion and pain from McDormand that it will have your heartpounding throughout.  The magic of Davis' images with McDonagh's words are truly magic on screen.  Mix in the quirky and unique score by Carter Burwell and Three Billboards hits you on all levels.  The visual punch, the sonic soothing nature and the humorous and angry words carry this film far past the run time.  A film that had me wanting to discuss all that I'd witnessed for hours afterwards.  I'm still wanting to talk about the reality in the film.

         I highly recommend this incredibly moving film.  Instead of continuing to talk about the brilliance of McDormand and McDonagh I'd rather you just enjoy the Red Band trailer and then GO SEE THIS FUCKING MOVIE!!

For Dallas Folks – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri can be seen at either Angelika Film Center, Alamo Draft House: Cedars location and AMC NorthPark.