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  • Fiona Prior

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Director: Martin McDonagh

Ladies and Gentlemen I think we have our Oscar Winner!

It would be a miraculous film to pip Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri for the major gong of the film industry this year.

We all know Frances McDormand (Fargo, Blood Simple, Almost Famous) is one of the greatest actors of our times. Give her a superior script, surround her with actors so on their game that they actually challenge her for most convincing character portrayal, put in place dialogue and events so blackly compelling that the appalling nature of events is only equal to the seams of raw black humour that come at you from nowhere …. and you are approaching the experience of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

McDormand’s character Mildred has lost her teenage daughter in an unspeakable way. Local authorities have not found her murderer and Mildred’s grief, anger and guilt combine to motivate the weirdest of gestures. She has three forgotten billboards plastered with questions and aimed at the county law enforcement authorities regarding why her daughter’s murderer has not been found.

We next meet the well-intentioned and terminally ill sheriff (Woody Harrelson) whose name shines out from these billboards as the one responsible for the lack of progress in the case. From this point you meet a wide array of folks, ranging from the very simple and much younger girlfriend of Mildred’s estranged husband to a redneck police sergeant who can’t quite reconcile the fact that beating black boys in jail is not acceptable behaviour any more, regardless of Southern tradition.

Three Billboards is painful, confusing and heartbreakingly funny. The most brutal of life's realities are handled with great tenderness and wisdom through the film's highly flawed characters and their integrity is strangely rediscovered (unearthed), eventually transcending the mindless and gestalt legacies of bigotry, hatred and brutality that had survived and flourished in this dusty little nowhere place.

Out-of-control but (just) believable behaviour propels us through a film where our two most angry characters find strange redemption when at the point of committing a crime of revenge.

I love the lack of formula in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

I love its strange message of hope.

Go see.

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