Here in the UK, you can tell when we're entering a new year in film when the films that are expected to be big hitters come awards season start being released week after week throughout January and February. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is certainly one of the aforementioned big hitters and deservedly so.

Still feeling aggrieved and frustrated by the lack of police investigation going into the violent rape and murder of her daughter, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) hires out three billboards on a stretch of road to challenge the local police, polarising the local townsfolk in the process.
Martin McDonagh made such an impression on me back in 2008 with In Bruges, a film that shook my funny bones to the core however, with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, McDonagh has delivered a black comedy driven by an emotional complexity unlike any of his previous films. 

Grief, tragedy and justice are all key themes in Three Billboards and McDonagh incorporates them brilliantly into his film through both the narrative and the memorable characters he has written. I howled with laughter at In Bruges and, while Three Billboards is full of some devilish laughs, McDonagh's latest evoked far more emotion from me than I was expecting. The story takes a few turns that I didn't expect it to and I have to applaud McDonagh for that.

As strong as the writing is, Three Billboards is really driven home by a phenomenal ensemble cast, led by an exceptional Frances McDormand as the mother seeking justice in her own way. McDormand is fantastic at showing both the hard exterior and emotionally driven interior to Mildred, akin to the character she portrayed so brilliantly in FargoThe supporting performances given by are of the highest order too, Woody Harrelson as the police chief living with his own personal troubles and Sam Rockwell as the officer with a penchant for unlawful policing, the latter making himself a major contender for Best Supporting Actor awards in the process.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a profound piece of cinema that presents much more to its audience than any of the trailers suggest. If you're a fan of films with great dialogue and even better performances, this is a film you will not want to miss. What a start to 2018!!

Verdict: ★★★★★


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