Rajeev Masand’s Film Review Of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Cast: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish

Director: Martin McDonagh

One of the big frontrunners in this year’s Oscar race, anointed with as many as seven nominations, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a film unlike anything one might have seen lately. I first caught it at the Zurich Film Festival in September last year, and five months later I’m still dazzled by its brilliance. 

Humor – even if it is of the dark kind – isn’t normally what you expect from a film about rape, murder, and grief. But writer-director Martin McDonagh has made it his business to deliver nothing that one ‘normally’ expects. His extraordinary first film “In Bruges” revealed his skill for flipping in a second between laughs and violence. With this one he raises the stakes and achieves a whole new level of original storytelling and unpredictability. 

Frances McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, a mother mourning the rape and murder of her teenage daughter seven months ago. The perpetrator was never caught, and the local police seem to have lost interest in the case. But where another person might have been broken by the experience, Mildred is consumed by rage and unwilling to let it go. She rents three billboards on the road leading into town, and on them taunts the chief of police, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), for not solving the case. 

Based on what I just told you, there’s no question that one’s sympathy would rest with Mildred. But this is not a film about easy answers or easy choices. Willoughby, the long-suffering sheriff, is basically a decent guy. The townspeople love him, and he doesn’t have too long to live. Mildred, meanwhile, is all sharp edges and acid tongue. She is angry, full of vengeance, and has a tough relationship with practically everyone including her son. 

Now tell me which side you pick? 

McDormand is exceptional as the glowering Mildred, whose rage no doubt stems from her unending sorrow. And Harrelson doesn’t miss a beat as the gentle cop who seems to understand her even though she’s driving him nuts. The two of them have an unusual, touching chemistry which makes it all the more hard to take sides. 

The third extraordinary performance in the film comes from Sam Rockwell in the role of Jason Dixon, Willoughby’s deputy, and an officer prone to bursts of extreme anger and violent aggression. In one of the film’s most startling but effective scenes, he throws a fellow out of a second-floor window for defying him. But the film gives us a good look at Dixon; we see him alone at home with his domineering mother, we see how desperately he wants to please his boss, and somehow we’re able to understand him. 

There’s a lot going on in this film, and you never know what to expect. There’s humor – big doses of profanity-laced black humor – pathos, of course, and shocking acts of cruelty and violence. It’s a delicious Molotov cocktail that McDonagh whips up, and leaves you to savor. The fine ensemble includes Peter Dinklage as the town dwarf who’s got a crush on Mildred, John Hawkes as her abusive ex-husband, and Lucas Hedges as her bullied son. 

The glue that binds everything together is McDormand, who delivers what many are calling her best performance since 1996’s “Fargo” for which she won an Oscar. There’s a very good chance she’ll pick up her second one this year. 

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, some complicated racial politics notwithstanding, is a clever, gripping film that you do not want to miss. I’m going with four and a half out of five.


Rating: 4.5 / 5

Did you like this blog?*
How did you find this blog?*
What kind of articles would you like to read on the blog?*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Rajeev Masand

  • Rajeev Masand’s Film Review of The Square

    Cast: Claes Bang, Elizabeth Moss, Terry Notary, Dominic West, Christopher Læssø Director: Ruben Östlund The Square, the new film from Swedish writer-director Ruben...

    BMS EditorMarch 16, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Raid

    Cast: Ajay Devgan, Saurabh Shukla, Ileana D'cruz, Amit Sial Director: Raj Kumar Gupta Raid, starring Ajay Devgan, is loosely inspired by the story...

    BMS EditorMarch 16, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review Of Tomb Raider

    Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins Director: Roar Uthaug. There’s a scene in the new “Tomb Raider” film starring Alicia...

    BMS EditorMarch 10, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Film Review Of 3 Storeys

    Cast: Richa Chadda, Pulkit Samrat, Sharman Joshi, Masumeh Makhija, Renuka Shahane. Director: Arjun Mukerjee That one never really knows one’s neighbors – no...

    BMS EditorMarch 10, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Film Review of Pari

    Cast: Anushka Sharma, Parambrata Chatterjee, Rajat Kapoor, Ritabhari Chakraborty, Dibyendu Bhattacharya Director: Prosit Roy I’m a real sucker for horror films, but in...

    BMS EditorMarch 2, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Film Review Of Lady Bird

    Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Beanie Feldstein Director: Greta Gerwig In a scene in Lady Bird, the protagonist,...

    BMS EditorMarch 2, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Film Review Of Welcome To New York

    Cast: Diljit Dosanjh, Sonakshi Sinha, Karan Johar, Sushant Singh Rajput, Rana Daggubati Director: Chakri Toleti “Welcome to New York”, starring Diljit...

    BMS EditorFebruary 24, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Film Review Of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety

    Cast: Nushrat Bharucha, Kartik Aaryan, Sunny Nijar, Ayesha Raza, Deepika Amin Director: Luv Ranjan There are two things you should know...

    BMS EditorFebruary 24, 2018
  • Rajeev Masand’s Film Review of The Shape of Water

    Cast: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Jenkins Director: Guillermo del Toro There is no one quite like...

    BMS EditorFebruary 16, 2018

All articles/blogs are intended to inform, entertain and amuse. We make no representations or guarantees about the truth, accuracy or quality of any content.

Copyright 2018 © Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Subscribe to our email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news!
Thank You For Subscribing To Us!

Now get regular updates on the latest entertainment news and style trends.

Providing you with the best of Bollywood, Hollywood, style and more.
Get the best in entertainment, while keeping yourself entertained!
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.
WordPress Popup