By guest columnist Caleb Luther.
What a powerful and poignant piece of black comedy. I’ve been pretty big on this director’s work for some while now (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), but he may have just topped himself with this one. Three Billboards goes above and beyond in developing its characters, making this already intriguing premise deeply layered and full of heartbreak.
It takes some masterful writing to turn fairly despicable characters into heavily sympathetic characters by the end of a film, but this task seems to be done with ease here. Similar to his past films, this can shift tonally on the drop of a dime…and it absolutely does. I honestly had no clue where this movie was going, especially after a second act twist that completely shook me to the core. The film is quite heavy, but there’s so many strong comedic moments that will make this a rewatchable film.
Frances McDormand delivers her strongest performance since Fargo, giving us an unpleasant and bitter mother grieving over the loss of her daughter. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson also deliver two of the strongest performances of the year as foul mouthed cops who may have deeper back stories than you’d expect.
I can count more than a handful of times where the movie just left me shocked, wondering if I should cry or laugh in these situations. That’s a sign of truly great filmmaking. I honestly can’t see anyone walking away from this not enjoying it, though it may be a bit too bleak and heavy for some. I do think this is overall the best film of the year and it has the potential to be a true classic within the next 10 years.