Following on from the incredible In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, director Martin McDonagh returns with his latest, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and it closed out this year's London Film Festival. Here's my review.

It has been a year or so since Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand)'s daughter was murdered. No culprit has ever been brought to justice and the trail has since gone cold, the police have moved on to more trivial matters that pale in comparison to this case, and the community have all but forgotten about the tragedy. All but Hayes, that is. Taking matters into her own hands, she rents three billboards just outside of Ebbing, Missouri each plastered with a great big message - they read 'RAPED WHILE DYING', 'AND STILL NO ARRESTS', 'HOW COME CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?'. These messages are intended to shame Ebbing's beloved police chief (Woody Harrelson), and to get shit done. It certainly gets Mildred noticed, and when Willoughby's second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), also gets involved, what soon develops in Ebbing, Missouri, as a result, is very dark and wholly unexpected.

For those familiar with McDonagh's work, Three Billboards is fittingly idiosyncratic and audacious. It pushes the envelope. It's a showboating affair. It's wholly unexpected. Yes to all of that and more. Similarly to his other work, this is a film determined on eschewing the traditional genre pieces; it's constantly meandering in the most unpredictable of ways, with no shortage of tricks and surprises up its sleeve. This is due to a screenplay that has its finger on the pulse, it's sharp and doesn't waste a word. McDonagh has a story to tell and he doesn't beat around the bush; this is the craft of a man that knows what he's doing, and he knows he's good at what he's doing. Of course, it's hilarious. The comedy is gut-busting; it thrives in in its dark, cynical nature and it's often side-splitting - but we'd expect nothing less, given both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths are equally as funny. But it's comedy that is smart and sharp, it's witty and the laughs feel earned. The film is equally as violent too; it's bloody and twisted and explosive. Again, we'd expect nothing less. This is Martin McDonagh doing what Martin McDonagh does best.
But if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And Three Billboards is an attack on the senses - this is an explosion of fizzing comedy; blood-soaked violence; luscious cinematography; electric dialogue; clever writing; thoroughly riveting character development, and just a bloody good story. Yet, despite all of this, it's grounded in reality and it's this authenticity that bleeds through and makes this all the more compelling an affair. For such a thrill ride and sensational explosion, it has a big, beating heart and is grounded with compassion and sincerity. This is a film rife with nuance and depth, constantly subverting expectations, and it's funny and violent and everything else you'd expect from a lavish McDonagh screenplay but it's also quite tragic and moving and brings some serious emotional weight to the table too. Sometimes, for such a shiny, showboating cinematic affair, it's not always shiny, showboaty and cinematic after all and often real and rreflective. It's bolted by some impeccable and blistering performances, from the entire cast - not least the astonishing trio of Harrelson, Rockwell and, of course, McDormand who all give such compelling, career-best knockout performances. But this is McDonagh's show to steal and he has struck gold yet again, for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a triumphant masterpiece of cinematic ingenuity and unwavering entertainment.


Martin McDonagh goes for gold once again, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is another blistering, hilarious and soaring triumph.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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