Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Film Review) – Good, Not Great

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a black comedy crime film written and directed by Martin McDonagh. The film starts Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand. The story of Three Billboards focuses on Mildred (Frances McDormand), a mother whose daughter was brutally murdered. The police have not been able to find a suspect so Mildred takes matters into her own hands. She rents three billboards to call attention to the unsolved crime which has an impact on the local community.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This is a film I was really looking forward to, particularly when you consider the amount of award recognition it is receiving. In fact, many see Three Billboards as a frontrunner to win Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. The director was a big reason why I was excited to see the film. Indeed, Martin McDonagh directed In Bruges which is a great film that not many people have seen. If Three Billboards was on the same level of quality as that film, then I would be delighted.

The casting for Three Billboards was fantastic too. We all know Peter Dinklage from his outstanding work in Game of Thrones and I was excited to see what he could do in the film. Sam Rockwell is a great character actor and has worked with McDonagh before in Seven Psychopaths which was a positive. Woody Harrelson has proven time and time again how talented he is as an actor. The same can be said for Frances McDormand. Her work in films such as Almost Famous, Mississippi Burning and Moonrise Kingdom proves how gifted she is. I was looking forward to seeing her performance in Three Billboards.

Woody Harrelson as Willoughby and Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This was particularly the case when you consider that she is a favourite to win Best Actress at the Oscars. Indeed, both McDormand and Rockwell are in contention to win in their respective acting categories. I hoped that these performances which have received such high praise would elevate what looked like a compelling story. Certainly, the subject matter provided a lot of opportunity for the film to have depth. I wanted Three Billboards to be great and consider it to be worthy of the critical acclaim and award recognition it has received.

My Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

While Three Billboards was not the film I wanted it to be in terms of quality, I did like it. Similar to Call Me By Your Name, it is a good film with great performances that did not make me feel like it deserved a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Still, I will start with the positives.

Firstly, the performances in Three Billboards. Most of the cast are fantastic in the film. As I previously stated, the film as a whole does not feel worthy to have been nominated for Best Picture. Nonetheless, the performances given by Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell deserve the award recognition they have received so far.

Sam Rockwell as Dixon and Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

They were exceptional in Three Billboards. I am more than pleased that Oscar nominations were given to them. Yet, I am not sure whether they deserve to win in their respective categories. This is simply because I still need to see more films and performances that are Oscar contenders. I have not seen enough of them yet to give you a solid opinion about who should win. However, I am confident enough to say that both McDormand and Rockwell warranted Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively.

Peter Dinklage, Woody Harrelson and Lucas Hedges were all good too but they were overshadowed by McDormand and Rockwell who are the stars of Three Billboards. The only negative with the cast was Abbie Cornish. She was completely miscast. It felt like she was in a completely different film which was a shame. Still, this is quite a minor negative in the grand scheme of things.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Is Engaging But Depressing

Three Billboards was, for the most part, engaging throughout. Despite its slow pacing, the excellent dialogue helps the film move at a good pace and keeps you entertained. Indeed, certain conversations in Three Billboards did make me chuckle, particularly when Mildred was involved. One flashback scene in a kitchen also comes to mind in regards to the comedic moments. These were the moments of levity in what was a very depressing film. I cannot deny that I was caught off guard at just how sad and dark Three Billboards was.

Frances McDormand as Mildred and Peter Dinklage as James in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Even the comedic moments are dark in nature. The depressing nature of the film does harm the chances of me re-watching Three Billboards again. For me, rewatchability is a big factor in the greatness of a film. True, certain films do exist which are very dark but have a lot of rewatchability. The masterpiece that is Schindler’s List comes to mind in that regard. However, Three Billboards is not one of these films.

The film never reached a high enough level of quality to make it qualify as a depressing film with tough subject matter that I will watch multiple times. Moreover, the ending of Three Billboards did not sit well with me. The film ended with a lack of resolution that left me unfulfilled with my viewing experience. I sat through the credits disappointed which was a real shame. I understood the meaning of the ending but I would have preferred it to be somewhat less ambiguous than it was.

My Final Thoughts on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

In the end, Three Billboards is a good film that I never have to see again. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of the great performances in the film as well as the excellent script which contains some brilliant dialogue. Still, Three Billboards is not on the same level of quality as In Bruges and it is not worthy of a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

Frances McDormand as Mildred in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The performances are worthy, but the film as a whole is not in my opinion. Still, I think that you should go see Three Billboards. Every film impacts different people in different ways. Three Billboards is good enough for you to give it a chance. Moreover, I have seen the film be adored by enough people that you could end up loving it. However, it is not good enough for me to say with confidence that you will likely love it. I really hope that you do though.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Film Review

 

Colossal (Film Review) – Original but Weird

Colossal is a sci-fi black comedy directed by Nacho Vigalondo and stars Dan StevensAustin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Jason Sudeikis and Anne Hathaway. The story focuses on Gloria (Anne Hathaway) who is an unemployed writer struggling with alcoholism. She is forced to move back to her hometown after breaking up with her boyfriend and she finds solace in the seemingly genuine kindness of childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). However, at the same time, a monster is attacking the city of Seoul, South Korea. The monster and Gloria are connected and Gloria must find out why before things get worse.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Colossal

I had heard from film critics/pundits that I like and respect that Colossal was an extremely original, wacky film that was worth seeing. I tried to avoid knowing too much about the plot as I wanted to go into the film not knowing what to expect. Additionally, I knew nothing about the director of this film. Still, with Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis in the lead roles, I was hopeful that Colossal would be a nice surprise.

Anne Hathaway in Colossal

My Thoughts on Colossal

Well, Colossal was a surprise though nice is not the word I would use to describe it. While I commend the film for its originality, I was not entertained and it did not connect with me. Of course, the originality of the story in Colossal is undeniable and it deals with some important issues such as control, abuse (both mental and physical) and inner strength.

The performances in the film are fine. No one is spectacular but the characters played by Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis are layered to some extent. I thought that the supporting cast were serviceable as well and the visual effects were very good, especially when you consider that Colossal was made on a small budget.

Jason Sudeikis in Colossal

The Flaws of Colossal

Despite this, my biggest issue with Colossal is that the story is told at a very leisurely pace and this was a real detriment to my viewing experience. It dragged on for far too long and I feel like Colossal would have worked better as a short film. Additionally, I did not find the film to be particularly funny. The comedy fell flat which was a shame as good comedy can elevate the quality of any film. All of this made Colossal a film which I have no desire to watch again.

Still, I feel that you should see Colossal for its original and unique concept alone. Certainly, it is very different to what is in cinemas at this moment in time. If you have become bored or fatigued by the films you have seen recently, then Colossal might be for you. However, I found it to be too weird even for me. I do not think it will be a film that I revisit again and again.

T2 Trainspotting (Film Review) – Deep and Nostalgic

T2 Trainspotting is a black comedy directed by Danny Boyle. In this film, we are reunited with the ensemble cast of the original Trainspotting consisting of Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Ewan McGregor. This sequel takes place 20 years after the events of Trainspotting which saw Renton (Ewan McGregor) betraying his friends and running off with the money from a drug deal. Renton now returns to Edinburgh, Scotland and has to deal with the consequences of his actions and repair old relationships.

My Knowledge and Expectation of T2 Trainspotting

The original Trainspotting is considered by many to be a British classic and there was a lot of expectation surrounding this sequel considering how revered the original is and how long it has been since the original was released. Myself, I did not have these high expectations as I do not consider Trainspotting to be the classic that everyone proclaims it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a really good film but I don’t love it so, going into T2 Trainspotting, I was not expecting much from the sequel.

Jonny Lee Miller and Ewan McGregor in T2 Trainspotting

My Thoughts on T2 Trainspotting

I am pretty glad I went in with such measured expectations because I really liked T2 Trainspotting. In fact, I think I might prefer it to the original Trainspotting. The reason why I feel this way is because T2 Trainspotting is a much deeper film than the original. For me, the original Trainspotting is a fun film that touches on some interesting themes such as urban poverty. In T2 Trainspotting, poignant themes and issues such as regret, growing old, clinging on to the past and nostalgia are purposefully interwoven into the story and become central to the narrative.

This is done to such great effect that characters such as Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) become more layered and sympathetic. In addition to the depth and the character development, the humour in this film is just as good as it was in the original. Certain scenes had me laughing to such a degree that it probably freaked out the people around me who were also watching T2 Trainspotting. Still, I didn’t care.

Robert Carlyle in T2 Trainspotting

My only issue with the T2 Trainspotting is that it is a bit slow in parts and the film could have been trimmed to improve the flow and pacing. However, considering that I harboured feelings that this film would have had more issues before I watched it, this was not a big deal.

I honestly feel that this film is better than the original Trainspotting as it is a deeper film that deals with themes that are central to the story while still having the humour that made the original so entertaining. If you are a fan of the original Trainspotting, then I implore you to watch T2 Trainspotting as soon as you can. I feel that it will widely resonate with people of various ages and backgrounds.