Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  is the latest gift from Martin McDonagh who directs his own script about a ticked off mother in small-town America, set to deface the local police in an effort to get some closure on a horrific event she and her family have experienced. A couple familiar McDonagh casting choices with Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson tag along with Frances McDormand to put on this lovely display of offensive/dark humor. But how does Three Billboards stack up to McDonagh’s previous two features?
Very Consistent: At this point in the directing and writing career of McDonagh, whether it was intentional or not, the man has a reputation to hold up. That reputation, of course, being a filmmaker who revolves his stories around a pretty gruesome death and packed with as much offensive and shameless dialogue to make any member of the MPAA explode with potential censorship. And Three Billboards absolutely nails this expectation. In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, both can be noted as some of the most outrageous scripts ever to be put through production and Three Billboards is no different. Martin McDonagh may have solidified himself as an auteur with just three films. Amazing, truly.
The Obvious: Everyone in this film performs beautifully. Every character has there own propose to their end goal. McDormand and Rockwell stand out the most. They both get the most screen time and every second is filmed to perfection. It would have been great to see more out of the rising star that is Lucas Hedges, who has now been in 3 very notable films in the last 12 months, but the tease of his talents just makes me more excited for the future of his career.
Fine Line of Realism: Three Billboards walks the line between realism and fantasy. Not unlike the other McDonagh films, Three Billboards can be about something that we have experienced personally but then turn into something that we have only imagined because of the absurdity of a decision that a character makes. There are also moments in the film where there is just too much information plopped down out of nowhere. Some would call this “chance” but it really just is a plot device to further the story if it appears to get a little stale.
Wrong Focus: This is the first time that McDonagh has written a script that directly references the current social and political playing field. Although this does provide some great comedic scenes, maybe even the most memorable of the film, it is all lost as a side to the main plot. It should be noted that if the script had not committed the attention to what McDonagh apparently thinks are pretty serious issues, that the second act of the film would not have felt like so much filler. Essentially, the first act introduces these great characters and the third act resolves most people of their wrongdoings and is a moment of redemption. But the second act, the largest portion of any film, largely focused on the great jokes but then touching on these social/political issues that are infused with the culture of small-town America.