Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a darkly comic drama which is not only the favourite front runner in the upcoming Awards season (the film is rumored to have big chances for BAFTA, Golden Globes and Oscars), but also it has already gained the status of cult movie. The director and stars of the film talk about this darkly compelling critics favourite, in cinemas on 12th January.
Among the frontrunners to take home the Best Picture gong at the 2018 Academy Awards, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a superb, twist-packed crime drama, blessed with an all-star cast at the top of their game and a staggeringly good script that’s by turns bleak, brutal and (surprisingly) comic.
Frances McDormand, the Oscar-winning star of Fargo, plays Mildred Hayes, a single, divorced mother grieving for her daughter, who was raped and murdered nearly a year before. With the case still painfully unsolved, Mildred hires three billboards on the edge of her small town, onto which she writes a pointed message aimed at the well-liked chief of police, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Although Willoughby himself is understanding, his unpleasant sidekick Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) takes umbrage to the slight and decides to make Mildred’s life hell.
Here, the director and stars chat to us about the film...
A compelling and original story
ODEON: What was it about this story that drew you in?
Sam Rockwell: Martin is especially great in this script in dealing with taboos, racial taboos and other taboos, which he brings to the surface in so many compelling ways.
Frances McDormand: I read the script, I loved the script and I couldn’t believe my great good fortune to be asked to play Mildred.
Woody Harrelson: I think Martin’s one of the great talents. His writing is so fresh, alive and funny but with such pathos and you just don’t find many screenwriters like this.
ODEON: What can you tell us about the three main characters?
McDormand: Mildred is really not a hero. She’s a much more complicated person than that. She’s been left by grief in a no-man’s-land, in a place of no return.
Harrelson: Bill is a decent man who tends to see the best in people. In many ways, he’s the archetypal good, small-town cop – but we discover early on that he’s not in the best of health, and now he’s facing up to some dark choices and dark realities. Mildred goes against him for all the right reasons, but he has his own good reasons to act the way he does.
Rockwell: Dixon’s kind of a classic. He’s like Edmund in King Lear in that he’s a real angry guy – angry at the world and filled with this idea that he’s always been mistreated.
An intelligent mix of genres and emotions
ODEON: How did the idea for the movie come about?
Martin McDonagh: I decided the buyer of the billboards would be an aggrieved mother and from there things almost wrote themselves. Mildred was someone strong, determined and raging, yet also broken inside. That was the germination of the story.
ODEON: Compassionate yet violent. Dark yet funny. The film doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. How would you describe it?
McDormand: Something I think Martin is really good at is an almost Greek idea of human existence – there are so many epic, significant ideas he allows himself to explore in this story. Then, by making his protagonist female rather than male he takes it into the realm of grand tragedy. By looking at how a female character seeks justice the story transcends gender to say something about the human condition.
McDonagh: The starting place is quite sad, but there’s a lot of comedy in it and hopefully it’s quite moving in parts as well. I guess that’s the way I see life. I see sadness in certain aspects, but my tendency is always to try and temper that with humour, however black it may be, and with the struggle against hopelessness.
What people say....
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri arrives in ODEON cinemas on 12th January.