Film Friday – “You ain’t trynta make me believe in reincarnation or somethin’ are ya?”

Film Fridays is a project initiated by Darren from over at The Arty Plantsman and me.

(By now you should know the drill so I’m not going to copy the intro text this time, and if you don’t know what this is all about just click here.)

So far my usual approach to Film Fridays contained mostly of films that make you smile or laugh – in times like these we can all do with a little cheering up, right?

But today I’m going to talk about a film that, although it does have its funny moments, and actually is called a black comedy drama film, is about much more than making people feel good for an hour and a half.

It wants to make people think, and feel, and yes, sometimes laugh, that too. 

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was written, directed, and produced by Martin McDonagh and starring (a stunning) Frances McDormand as a Missouri woman who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter’s unsolved rape and murder. 

Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes and Peter Dinklage appear in supporting roles (brilliant cast). 

The film received widespread acclaim, particularly for the performances of McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell, and McDonagh’s screenplay. McDormand and Rockwell each won an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, and SAG Award for Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.

To the story:

In the (fictional) town of Ebbing, Missouri, Mildred Hayes is grieving over the rape and murder of her teenage daughter, Angela, several months earlier. Angry over the lack of progress in the investigation, Mildred rents three abandoned billboards near her home and posts on them: “Raped While Dying“, “And Still No Arrests?“, and “How Come, Chief Willoughby?” The billboards upset many townspeople, including Chief Bill Willoughby and the racist, violent, alcoholic Officer Jason Dixon. The open secret that Bill suffers from terminal pancreatic cancer adds to everyone’s disapproval. Despite incurring harassment and threats, and the objections of her son Robbie, Mildred remains determined to keep up her billboards.

 

Here are a few memorable quotes:

Mildred Hayes : What’s the law on what ya can and can’t say on a billboard? I assume it’s ya can’t say nothing defamatory, and ya can’t say, ‘Fuck’ ‘Piss’ or ‘Cunt’. That right?

Red Welby : Or… Anus.

Mildred Hayes : Well I think I’ll be alright then.

 

  • Mildred Hayes : So how’s it all going in the nigger- torturing business, Dixon?

    Dixon : It’s ‘Persons of color’-torturing business, these days, if you want to know. And I didn’t torture nobody.

  • Mildred Hayes : Wow. When you can’t trust the lawyers and the advertising men, what the hell’s America coming to, huh?

Mildred Hayes : My daughter Angela was murdered 7 months ago, it seems to me the police department is too busy torturing black folk to solve actual crimes.

 

And here a short clip from one of the scenes:

On how the story developed:

While traveling through the Southern United States in around 1998, Martin McDonagh came across a couple of accusatory billboards about an unsolved crime, which he described as “raging and painful and tragic” alleging the murder of a woman named Kathy Page by her husband Steve Page in Vidor, Texas. The billboards highlighted the incompetence of police work and deeply affected McDonagh; he said that the image “stayed in my mind […] kept gnawing at me” and presumed that they were put up by the victim’s mother. This incident, combined with his desire to create strong female characters, inspired him to write the story for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. McDonagh discussed the creative process, saying that it took him about ten years to “[decide] that it was a mother who had taken these things out. It all became fiction […] based on a couple of actual billboards”.

The musical score was written by Carter Burwell, who had also supplied the score for McDonagh’s films In Bruges . As well as Burwell’s score, the film features songs by ABBA, Joan Baez and many others, making it a real feast for the ears.

This is a very angry film about a very angry woman, a mother who has lost her child in the worst possible way, and it feels wrong to say that I love this film, or that I like it, but in a way I do.

The reasons for this lie in the outstanding performance of the actors, the brilliant script and dialogue and the courage that it takes to name things as they are and not to hide behind so called political correctness.

I’m well aware that this film might not be to everybody’s liking, but I hope that my post at least made you consider watching it, if you haven’t already.

35 thoughts on “Film Friday – “You ain’t trynta make me believe in reincarnation or somethin’ are ya?”

  1. I was thinking of seeing this movie because I heard it’s quality was very good, but was afraid that I’d find it a bit too depressing. (I do have a close friend who was going to see it, but when she found out there was a suicide scene in it, she declined as she’s lost a family member to suicide shortly before.) But after reading your post, I think maybe I will give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss, how terrible. 🙁 I think she did the right thing not to watch this movie. The scene is very short but it’s there.
      It is a very good movie however and worth a try, Ann. And I think it might give you plenty of thoughts which in turn might end up in your blog posts. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is nothing wrong with liking a film that makes a strong statement. We need more of them. I have not seen this and in general, avoid them because I feel every emotion and it stays with me. I know it’s a film but most film and books come from real stories of suffering. There is a LOT of suffering going on. Losing a child in such a way would make any mother unleash their anger. I’ll see if I can find it and then see if I can watch it. Love your review of it though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s the same for me, Marlene – books and films leave a very strong impression on me, the emotions linger on for weeks. And even though this one is very intense, it’s also so very good that not watching wasn’t an option for me. Also the dark humor helps lift the mood whenever one needs a little lift from the story. At least I did laugh out a few times despite the circumstances, and I think that’s what the screenplay writer had in mind.
      Let me know if/when you get a chance to see it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the review, Sarah. I’ll watch anything Frances McDormand is in, so I’ve put it on my watch list–although I’ll probably hold off watching it until the social unrest in the US isn’t as virulent as it is now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re very welcome, Liz, and I can totally understand that you’ll hold off watching it at the moment – it’s very upsetting, and with the news being overload with one horrible deed after another, the last thing you need is a movie that brings it all up again.
      I’m so shocked about the social unrest, what’s happening is beyond understanding, it seems to get worse each day and I keep hoping that things will soon change with the upcoming election in your country. This has to stop, from here it almost looks like a civil war. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never seen this movie, though it rings a bell, Sarah. It has a stellar cast too. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m going to see if I can get it on Netflix or Amazon. I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the start to your September!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We stopped going to movie theaters years ago because of the disrespect of mostly teenage audiences that made the experience miserable. Which is a long way of saying that we wanted to see this film but weren’t able to. I’ll have to try to find it on one of our cable networks. Anything Frances McDormand acts in rises to become a superior film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t been to the cinema in years either, Shari. Not so much because of the audience as I remember there weren’t that many people last time I went, but because the prices have become skyrocketing high here and when you’re a student and wonder what else you could buy with the 12 Euros – like the DVD when the film comes out and then you can watch it again and again – it kind of lost its appeal to me.
      I hope you get a change to watch this film though, it’s excellent!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I understand, Darren. And I do believe that one doesn’t need to watch every movie on earth, or read every book, especially not if it would be too upsetting. ❤

      Like

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