McCann At The Movies: A McDonagh Movie-Making Masterclass

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Our movie guy, John McCann, says ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is a must-see from director Martin McDonagh…

London-Irish director’s third feature, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ sees the filmmaker return to the promise shown with ‘In Bruges’ after the disappointment that was his second film ‘Seven Psychopaths’.

This black comedy crime film deals with a mother who, when the police in her town fail to find a suspect in her daughter’s murder, purchases three billboards to call public attention to the unsolved crime, splitting the community in the process.

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Director, producer and writer of the film, McDonagh was inspired to write the movie after seeing billboards about an unsolved crime while travelling through South USA stating “the rage that put a bunch of billboards like that up was palpable and stayed with me” which led to the creation of a fictional scenario around such a situation.

Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.

McDonagh wrote the parts of the mother and Officer Dixon with Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell specifically in mind and both return the director’s faith in spades.

Rockwell (a criminally underrated actor in his own right) has become a McDonagh regular and is excellent here as racist cop Dixon, a role that will surely see him add more awards to his recent Golden Globe success.

McDormand is simply a tour de force in her role with an energy and drive that you’ll find it difficult to see matched on the big screen this year and aside from her recent Globe success, more accolades are bound to follow.

The film itself is a tonal rubix cube, switching from a dark comedy to drama to crime thriller – sometimes all within one scene!

The audience are kept guessing, laughing and shifting uncomfortably in their seats until the final shot and whereas the language may be colourful at times (as all McDonagh productions tend to be) the script is superb with some instantly quotable lines throughout!

There is more of a hint of the Coen Brothers at play here and fans of those maverick movie makers as well as McDonagh’s previous work will not be disappointed.

It is, however, a film that should be savoured by all cinema goers as ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is a early year cinematic gem that is bound to please critics and audiences alike. A masterpiece!


For more of John McCann’s movie reviews, check out his Facebook page here and website here

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