So I finally got round to seeing this (those that know me would know that I don’t usually watch films during the hype) and I have to say it was worth the wait.
So lets start with what the film is about, it centres around a mother losing a daughter in a horrific murder with no suspects caught or bought to justice for it. The mother Mildred (played by Frances McDormand – on tantalising form) then challenges the local police Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) by placing three billboards along a stretch of road asking why the murder has not been solved. This act sets in motion a chain of events that leave a lasting impression on all involved.
McDormand is cold as ice as Mildred, she gives a sharp, witty and emotional performance that uses her full range of skills, skills which gave her the Oscar win earlier this year. Sam Rockwell also won a Oscar for his performance as the dim-witted and racist police officer Dixon, whose antics are funny and amusing, as well as disturbing, particularly his attitude towards violence, Rockwell is on top form here, I can’t help but feel all his previous film work is finally paying dividends in this performance.
There is no character in the film who is wholly likeable, the one that does come close is Chief Willoughby, you will find out how once you watch the film. Harrelson’s performance is restrained and dignified, it is his character that offers a chance of redemption for the others. There is an underlying theme of anger through the film, a very funny scene which features one of the more moronic characters (the nineteen year old girlfriend of Mildred’s ex husband) states ‘anger only begets more anger’ sort of states the obvious and that perhaps letting things go is something we need to do – no matter how hard that is.
There is heavy use of music within the film, which adds a western style feel to it, indeed the way the dialogue is delivered is like a shootout scene, back and forth. This all makes for very exciting and entertaining film. If you enjoyed, like I did, Martin McDonagh’s In Brugge and his first work Six Shooter you will like this film, it keeps you guessing and wanting to know what happens next, which can only be a sign of a good film, my only complaint is that the film is slightly uneven and events do jump at different points. For example the redemption was too easy to gain and it all felt rather rushed. But the ending is also not what you would have expected, which I rather liked, and it definitely is a good conversation starter.
The obvious question is if Mildred did not put up the billboard signs would things have changed? Is it better to do something instead of nothing? Perhaps Einstein said it best when he said ‘The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it’ but, perhaps he should have also added that actions should never be born out of anger, as this can cloud our judgment and sometimes make things worse.