Liverpool Sound and Vision rating * * * *
Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Caleb Landry Jones, Kerry Condon, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Riya May Atwood, Selah Atwood, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Amanda Warren, Malaya Rivera Drew, Sandy Martin, Christopher Berry, Jerry Winsett, Kathryn Newton, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Clarke Peters.
The way we act now in times of personal doubt and individual pain has changed, dramatically and with much noise, perhaps even ceremony, no longer are we dictated to that we must grieve in a certain way, that we must take it on the chin all that happens to us; to sit in silence and slowly drift into the greyness that claims our own lives without our consent.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has that sense of anger strewn through it, like a finely planned tapestry, the intricacy of its fury is only tempered by the collision that awaits the players in the town and their silence over the rape and murder a local young woman and the near impossibility of finding the killer. It is a town that has at its core deep seated issues, unresolved intolerance and even worse, a sense of damned loyalty to people to whom don’t deserve it.
Not only does Frances McDormand give one of the finest performances of her career as Mildred, the mother of a murdered daughter, but Woody Harrelson also steps up to the plate in magnificent style as the put upon Police Chief Willoughby, a man to whom his own eventual death is but a consequence and pales into comparison to the suffering and guilt that is imposed by force on the mind and soul of Mildred.
In both these parts, both towering in their own right, the actors seem to find a solace of being able to play characters that are both full of strength at one time in their lives but due to circumstance, now feel that their life force has been drained to the point of exhaustion and near acceptance. Their resolve to change this sense of humanity is as ever played out with conscious and reasoning; one fights the battles that one must, to do otherwise is a betrayal, not to society, but to one’s own worth.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a film of honesty, one that is not afraid to look anger in the eye and spit down its throat, to lay bare a person’s grief, their own insecurities and inward prejudice. It is in being honest, even if we are playing a role, to that nature which frames us for the people we are, our battles are, our perception on life and death, is what makes us honourable in the end.
Ian D. Hall