By Zach Smith (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

 

“For those of you who didn’t already know, Sam Rockwell is a pretty damn great actor… “

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the most unique films I have had the pleasure of watching in the movie theatre in 2017, and I think it’s safe to say that we are going to be hearing this films name brought up quite frequently during award season. Martin McDonagh has produced one of the most layered and masterful screenplays of the year, one that I look very much forward to reading in the near future. McDonagh is able to create heinous unlikable characters, and take them to a point of self-redemption, molding audience emotions like putty from loathing to loving his characters. This film utilized comedic elements to absolute perfection without disrupting or affecting the generally tragic tone of the film, but also giving us glimmers of life and fun throughout the film.

The cast of this film was absolutely superb, spearheaded by tremendous performances from Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes, Woody Harrelson as Chief Bill Willoughby, and of course the one and only Sam Rockwell as Jason Dixon. Sam Rockwell is somebody that I have always liked and respected as an actor; however, his performance in this film absolutely floored me. If Rockwell isn’t considered for a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ nomination for this role, then the Academy has truly lost all its credibility in my eyes. McDormand also delivers a phenomenal performance, bringing to life a very strong yet damaged character, who is able to portray both a very likable protagonist as well as at times a very bitter and ruthless individual that can almost feel like an antagonist. This film does a really good job at illustrating perspective, allowing audiences to view situations from multiple angles and perspectives, and letting us come to our own conclusions without attempting to force us into thinking a certain way.

A lot of screenwriters seem to fear giving their protagonist too many ‘unlikable’ elements, because they are afraid that the mass audiences won’t connect with characters they wouldn’t strive to be like… Martin McDonagh on the other hand isn’t afraid to take that risk with his characters, and it pays off BIG TIME. As human beings we are not perfect, and our movie protagonists don’t need to be these perfect role model citizens either, they just need to feel real. The characters in The Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Feel like real people, and that is one of the best compliments I can give to a film. The concept of this film feels so fresh and unique, it doesn’t feel like a borrowed concept or inspired by another property, it has its own identity, which nowadays is truly a sight to behold. This film treats its audience with respect and keeps us on our toes constantly, never taking the predictable and easy way out with its story arches or underlining plots, as well as always leaving us with more to be desired.

This is a film that not only commands your attention but deserves your attention as well and there is no reason why anyone should let this film pass them by. If we are talking about the best movies released in 2017, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri without a doubt deserves to be in the forefront of that conversation. I have a very strong feeling that this film will be a dominant entity during award season, (as it should be), and I look forward to seeing what Martin McDonagh has in store for us next. With films like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, I am truly excited for the future of film making, and I can’t wait to see what great pictures await us in 2018.

Rating: 5/5

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