BEIRUT: With the Oscars around the corner, it’s a race against the clock as all the Best Picture contenders make their way to the silver screens worldwide, to be exhibited in front of an audience.
This week, Martin McDonagh’s tragedy of the human condition Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri made its way to the Lebanese box office.
A minimalist plot that follows Mildred Hayes, played by Frances McDormand, as she makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town, the film’s namesake, with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson, the town's revered chief of police.
Things only get worse, when Willoughby’s second-in-command Officer Dixon, played by Sam Rockwell, an immature mother’s boy with a taste for violence, gets involved.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is an allegory to what happens when human beings are pushed too far.
Starting with Mildred Hayes, who is dealing with her daughter’s unsolved murder, the town of Ebbing’s non-dis, a French term meaning the things we bury deep within ourselves, begin to boil over and get exposed.
The film’s power comes from its masterful screenplay and multifaceted characters.
Written by McDonagh, the narrative explores what happens when rage can’t be calmed. As the tension mounts, the film delves into themes of division, anger, and moral reckoning.
All of these ideologies and Mildred’s emotional quest are contrasted with the film’s dark comedy, a hefty challenge to any writer; but this is why the film is so memorable.
The overall tone of the film fits into an almost Greco-tragedy structure, where the characters simply fall victim to their ever-growing hatred.
The dialogue is both stylistic, almost Shakespearean at times, all the while being grounded and realistic, which brings certain rawness to the narrative and the actors’ performances.
It’s not a tale of smoke and mirrors, on the contrary – the film is the uncensored, flawed, and ugly truth.
Yes, the film has garnered some attention due to it taking on the subject of a young girl who was raped and murdered and how that affected the town she was from, while balancing racism, and bigotry; but the film is about way more than that.
Visually, the film transforms the fictional town of Ebbing into a town so vivid it is almost real.
Cinematographer Ben Davis gives the town a very claustrophobic yet charming feel, ensuring camera movement and frames that are minimal yet emotionally striking.
In a strikingly beautiful scene between Mildred and a deer, all elements merge together in a heartbreaking symphony of sound and image.
This is the epitome of what Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missori is all about.
This is not a film about the technicalities, nor about the spectacle of cinema; it’s a film about human nature, characters, society, life’s hardships, and how people reel with anguish over loss unfairness, and the resistance to change.
Featuring some of the most powerful performances of 2017, Three Billboards brings together an Oscar-worthy ensemble that deserves every bit of praise it’s receiving.
Francis McDormand takes on an almost John Wayne-esque role as the grieving mother without regret, who decides to take on and test the very fabric of Ebbing, Missouri.
“She is more in the tradition of the Spaghetti Western’s mystery man, who comes walking down the center of the street, guns drawn, and blows everybody away,” said McDormand when talking about how she took on the role of Mildred.
It’s rare when films of this nature come around; and when they do, they grant the audience with a cathartic experience that challenges the viewer and leads to potential discourse about hate, intolerance, and the true meaning of humanity.
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