Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (4½ Stars)
This film has been nominated for seven Oscars at the 2017 Academy Awards, including Best Film. Does it have a chance of winning? The odds are stacked against it. It's a black comedy, and the last time a comedy won the Best Film award was 40 years ago. It also faces stiff opposition from "The Shape of Water".
The film takes place in a fictional small town in Missouri. It's seven months since Mildred Hayes' daughter Angela was found dead after being raped just outside of town. After all this time there are no leads. Mildred blames the police, so she rents three billboards to post a message of protest:
1 - RAPED WHILE DYING
2 - AND STILL NO ARRESTS?
3 - HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?
A subject like this might not seem like a suitable topic for a comedy, but if you know the previous films by the director Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges" and "Seven Psychopaths", you already know that he has a twisted sense of humour.
I'm surprised that the film is so popular in America, because it's obvious that McDonagh is making fun of American society. He's a British director, and normally Americans only allow their own countrymen to criticise them. Subjects such as racism and police brutality are presented as something hilarious. The cinema audience couldn't stop laughing.
Nobody in the film can be considered a good person, not even Mildred. Everyone has faults, some more than others. If Ebbing is a microcosm of American society it's a rotten apple full of worms. I don't say that to criticise the film. That's what gives it its appeal.
It's a very good film that I'll definitely buy when it's released on Blu-ray. It's worth watching more than once. I overheard someone in the row behind me saying it was the fourth time he'd seen it in the cinema. It's a film that can fascinate people, and I suspect that it will fascinate me even more after I see it again.