Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ★★½

Man, this did not hold up well on rewatch. I think once the initial shocks of the twisting narrative have worn off, all you're left with a lot of unpleasant characters and an artificial world that's hard to care about. There's nothing that makes these people endearing outside of the obvious, easily sympathetic tragedies, which in turn makes spending time with them drag. Tonally it's all over the place - it can't decide if its a hard-hitting emotional drama, a satirical view of society or an off-beat black comedy. Sometimes the film will go to some really dark places in the name of shock and laughs, before suddenly and jarringly shifting to something much more lighthearted. My first time watching it I do remember laughing a lot, but here it felt like little more than a lot of unnecessary foul mouthed dialogue. (A sign of maturing perhaps?) It's just a mess - any of the fun that I had with it before was distinctly lacking this time around.

Seeing as it won two acting Oscars, and damn near swept both categories for the entire awards season that year, I paid close attention to both McDormand and Rockwell. It was, in hindsight, a pretty weak year in terms of acting nominations, and while I don't have a massive problem with either win, I also wasn't overly impressed. It's definitely the weaker of McDormand's two wins, although she is the best performance in the film. In her moments of extreme stillness, be it in fear, anger or deep sadness, you can see so much emotion behind her stiff exterior. She also nails the rude, brash tone to a lot of the dialogue. Rockwell struck me as being a bit too cartoony this time. The fact that his character is wholly unlikable certainly doesn't help him much. Still, he just sort of plods his way through scenes, relying on dialogue that just isn't that funny and emotional depth that isn't there. Honestly, the whole thing just lacks an air of authenticity that made it hard to buy into. As it goes it relies more and more on cliches and contrivances, until it reaches the end and feels like it barely knows what to do. Perhaps I was just swept up in the excitement of getting a new Martin McDonagh film back when it was released, but whatever worked for me back then wasn't anywhere to be seen this time around.

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