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Three Billboards: a laugh every 20 minutes

Photo by Arc Cinema, Drogheda

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has been the centre of Oscar buzz for a while now. After a single viewing, one can definitively see why such buzz exists.

Three Billboards (as it will from now on be referred by) is described by the media as a drama. While it does have its very dramatic moments (some, to the point of uncomfortableness), there isn’t an overall loss of some comic relief. When we first encounter main characeter Mildred Hayes, played by Oscar winner Frances McDormand, we perceive her as a tough stern woman. However, later on in the film we can see that her toughness is also peppered with a surprisingly laid back attitude. Not all of the time, of course. This surprising comic relief is most noticeable in scenes acting opposite Game Of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage as well as the character Dixon, played perfectly by Sam Rockwell.

The comic relief is scarce, however. So, don’t see this film expecting a laugh a minute. The aforementioned actors, along with Woody Harrelson, played their respective characters to a tee. One should take their hat off to director Martin McDonagh in the casting of these actors. Being the writer of this film as well, McDonagh knew exactly what he was doing in envisioning the look and feel of the film. Another aspect of the story that should be noted is the simplicity of it. The film tells the story of the mother of a murdered girl who decides to get the attention of the local police due to them not following up on her daughters murder by renting three billboards outside of her town to display mesages directed at local police that eventually gains media attention. McDormand’s character is obviously grief-stricken, but we later learn that the other charcters in the film are also fighting their own personal battles. Each character’s respective story is told both visually and vocally very well.

With a small cast, there was plenty of room for every named character to have their moment. Two actors in particular stood out the most with the least amount of screen time. Firstly; Caleb Landry Jones, who plays Red. Red is a worker in the company who owns the billboards. Mildred deals with him directly when trying to rent the billboards. Though only in a handful of scenes; Jones plays the character perfectly as a passive agressive but also weak character that is enjoyable to watch and, at the end of the day, likable.

Secondly; Samara Weaving, who plays Mildred’s ex-husbands young girlfriend Penelope. Penelope is a huge comic relief to the film. Again, in some very intense scenes, the actress knew exactly what her character was meant to do. Weaving emphasised her character’s inmaturity and awkwardness excellently. Yet another perfect performance.

Three Billboards in nominated for Best Picture at this years Oscars, as well as a plethora of other nominations. At least one nominee from this film is going home with an award in-hand. It is a very high possibility.

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