8/10

If you were to ever grab the attention of the police, this is how it’s fucking done.

Coming in as the unofficial runner-up to Best Picture at the Oscars. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri tells a tale of lust for revenge, with a mother trying to hunt down her daughter’s killer. She does so by putting pressure on a seemingly incompetent local police force and places three billboards to remind them how terrible they are at their jobs.

This is the latest concoction from writer and director Martin McDonagh, who also wrote and directed another great action-drama In, Bruges. Much like that film, his latest was also quite funny and these are all aspects that translate throughout the story.

What is great to see, is how all three of these characteristics (action, drama, and comedy), are balanced throughout the runtime. But this should also be largely credited to the star-studded line-up and supporting cast. Every character here is written and performed in such a way, that it compliments any of these aspects when they are needed. It’s no wonder Sam Rockwell got an Oscar for his supporting performance, as not only does he exuberate all three traits, but Martin McDonagh allows him to have a serious and heartfelt character arc. The same goes for Frances McDormand, who also won an Oscar. But I’ll cut short with my compliments since, well, she’s been fantastic for many years now and doesn’t really need much more explaining. Much like how many people feel for actress Meryl Streep.

My only real gripes with the film, (and why I have not given it above an 8 rating), are with some of the pacing issues and resolution. Whilst there is a nice balance of drama, action, and comedy; they nevertheless could have come at a quicker rate. The first half of the film feels like it just dragged on a tad too much. And whilst it’s nothing completely detrimental or horrible like other bad films, it’s noticeable so it’s definitely there.

I, like most people, wished it also ended slightly differently, but I can still appreciate the decision to end it in the way it did. However, maybe if the runtime was cut through a faster style of pacing, my issue with the ending could have been resolved. But I again reiterate, that I still respect the intentional choice made by Martin McDonagh. I just hoped for something more is all.

When it comes down to it, the film’s positives far outweigh the negatives. And in many ways, it is a far better film than what bested it for Best Picture (see our The Shape of Water review). It is a brilliantly casted film, with an original take on a familiar scenario that ultimately, is a pleasure to watch. Maybe not for repeated viewings, like In, Bruges, but still good enough to deserve your money. Go see it.

45 comments

  1. I thought it was the best picture. Good message – that something bad happened to you isn’t permission to do bad to others. Not sure how both characters don’t up in jail forever for all they did throughout the film but I suppose in that way it’s a dark comedy

  2. Great, and in agreement again. I didn’t notice the pacing trouble but the ending made me walk away in something like but not quite anger. Anger at the guns and the gun culture. Three quarters of American films would not have a way of ending if there weren’t for the quick gun solution. There is thinking, there is outsmarting, and then there are guns. I know that such a splendid film must have been hard to bring to a successful finish but they didn’t even try. They stuck on it an ending that would most likely happen for real, that’s why it’s so unsatisfying. Who needs more of this reality.

    1. Haha interesting outlook on it. We didn’t even see the whole gun outlook interpretation as you pointed out but it’s a fair enough read as well

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