18 January 2018

Billboards

Frances McDormand as Mildred
One of the films of the moment is the oddly titled "Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri" written and directed by Martin McDonagh. Shirley and I went to see it on Tuesday afternoon.

Starring Frances McDormand as Mildred, the film is set in small town America where everybody knows everyone else. Long before the film opens, Mildred's teenage daughter  Angela was raped and murdered. Mildred is filled with both grief and anger for she feels that the local police department have neglected their duties, failing to pursue the killer with due diligence.

She rents  three disused billboards on the outskirts of town and uses them to embarrass the police into action.

It is a quirky film that has been described as a "dark comedy". McDonagh also directed "In Bruges" and seems to have a gift for embroidering seemingly tragic plots with strands of humour.

There's a clownish police officer called Dixon - played brilliantly by Sam Rockwell - in "Three Billboards".  He lives with his mother. Near the end of the film he prepares to head out of the house while she is snoozing on the sofa. Bizarrely, there's also a tortoise on the sofa and he crawls into the old lady's lap. There is no other reference to this tortoise. It's just an unremarked and quirky moment that stayed with me after we left the cinema.

Pictorially, it is an eye-catching film. By the end you feel that you know Ebbing and its environs quite intimately. By the way, Ebbing is actually a fictional town. The real location was Sylva in the Plott Balsam Mountains of north western North Carolina.

There was another assured performance by Woody Harrelson as Police Chief Willoughby and Lucas Hedges - who I first saw in the excellent  "Manchester By the Sea" played the part of Robbie - Mildred's son - in an appropriately restrained manner.

It's a good film and well worth seeing in my view but be warned - if you are of a delicate disposition - that Mildred is quite foul-mouthed and in her "cussing" shows little restraint.
Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby

21 comments:

  1. I like quirky films, anything that's a bit off the wall.

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    1. Well in that case I think you would like this one. It is currently being screened at The Odeon in Trowbridge.

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  2. I do want to see this movie! You may not know it but it is an American custom to keep a tortoise on the couch at all times. It's good luck. We have several of them, in fact, and we had to hide them from DEFRA.

    The Plott Balsam Mountains?! Is that a real place?

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    1. I am not even an American but I have known about The Plott Balsam Mountains since childhood. How does Olga get on with your herd of tortoises?

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  3. thanks for this I am so looking forward to this foul mouthed character study

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    1. You might pick up some new phrases to ad to your salty repertoire.

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  4. I think both McDormand and Harrelson are wonderful at their craft. I will see it later when I can stream it into my home. We used to have a 3-screen movie theatre in our village, but it has been gone for a few years now. Thank goodness we now have internet connections and wi-fi....slow as it might be!

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    1. Are you sure that a well-mannered and sophisticated young woman like yourself should have her delicate sensibilities polluted by foul language?

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  5. Hmm... I have watched the trailer of this movie some weeks ago with O.K. (he LOVES watching movie trailers), and it did look interesting, but somehow not interesting enough to make us decide on bookmarking it for a cinema visit.
    While I like Woody Harrelson, I am not overly keen on cussing. If it fits the story and is done in a way that you believe the character, I can handle it.

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    1. I am not fond of gratuitous swearing either Meike but in this film it seems appropriate.

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  6. I can tell this film caught your attention. You enjoyed it and left with many questions.

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    1. It wasn't the deepest film I have ever seen but it certainly held my attention throughout.

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  7. This is a movie I look forward to watching. All the reviews I've read about it have been very good.

    I like McDormand...she's an excellent actress; and Woody Harrelson, of course, is equally excellent in everything he appears in...from comedy to drama. As for Sam Rockwell, he's been around for years, has been nominated for many awards (and won many)...he's one of those actors who flies under the radar, whose face is not recognised as easily as some other actors, but he, too, is brilliant in his craft without making a big noise, song and dance about it.

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    1. When you do get to see it I think you will like it. However I know how prim and proper you Australian ladies are so get ready to put your fingers in your ears when McDormand's character starts swearing!

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    2. Swearing/cursing doesn't bother me, Yorkie. I've heard it all before and will hear it all again.

      I'd be a hypocrite to say otherwise. I use the "F" word often. Food is one of my favourite fings. ;)

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    3. I am truly shocked! I thought you were as pure as the driven snow Lee!

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    4. Yeah! Yeah! If you don't soon remove your tongue from your cheek, you will choke, Mr. Pudding!!

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  8. Thanks for the movie review. this movie is on my list of films to see, and will no doubt receive award nominations.

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    1. I am sure it will figure in the Academy Awards Linda.

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  9. Frances McDormand was remarkable as Mildred Hayes, taking on her character and remaining constant throughout the whole film. Not for the faint-hearted who might recoil at the violence and language.
    Not the kind of small town America that appeals to me but an amazing performance by McDormand. And her on-screen son, played by Lucas Hedges who offered the one redeeming character in the whole movie.

    Alphie

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