Today I learned that WordPress will not limit how long my title can be… interesting. With that bit of new found knowledge I came up with the original title of
“The County Office is on Fire and The Cows are Exploding! What’s Going On In The Mind of Martin McDonagh Director of ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (Review) or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”
Sometimes less is more… however, I do kind of wish that The County Sheriff’s Office is on Fire and The Cows are Exploding was the title to well something. Let get into it.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards is absolutely not what I expected. An Oscar film has almost become synonymous with dry drama that does not expect us to really stretch our imagination. Realism is typically preserved and from promotional material I thought this year’s driest drama was going to be this film. Apparently I couldn’t be anymore wrong. This year at the Oscars in general was very uplifting to me atleast that something: as strange as Shape of Water, as unconventional as Dunkirk, as un-ostentatious as Get Out and Lady Bird and as wild as Three Billboards could each get recognized as being some of this year’s greatest films and hopefully have a larger audience both now and in the future.
There’s certain stigmas against Oscar voting that says that certain movies or genres can’t be represented at the academy awards and one of those is comedy. While it maybe a great unsolved mystery as to why Daddy’s Home 2 wasn’t a best picture nominee, I’d argue that Lady Bird, Get Out, and Three Billboards were all very humorous movies.
The performances are not only what won the movie its two academy awards but was what really stood out. The actors are impressive in given multi-faceted performances that not only allow their characters to radiate their strong personalities but fluidly be the caricature they represent but also soberly become human in the film’s vital moments.
Three Billboard is such a movie. By that I mean just it doesn’t try to trick you into believing in it. For those who haven’t brushed up on Aristotle’s poetics, he postulates this idea of theatre being a catharsis. This artificial projection allows us to purge emotions that we know can’t be expressed in reality. Three Billboards operates to which these characters get to unload all their emotions and there’s no obedience to societal acceptability. The extremes in which these characters adhere to their own ethical limitations do what we wouldn’t dare to do. Dramatic irony and other set-ups allows for some great humor throughout.
The cinematography is well done across the board while it stays focused it does have moments which add to the overall narrative exploration. When it comes to negative criticisms I read one critic argue that the film feels more like “a European vision of Missouri” which I agree with it’s very based in generalizations of the Midwest but fits the false reality of the movie in general. Also, was it just me or did it feel that it had a really satisfying ending shot … and then continued on for another minute long scene that added absolutely nothing and then just had it end in a real awkward moment.
Three Billboards highly recommend, just come in expecting odd film and not necessarily a harrowing true story. Now stick around because included on the DVD is Six Shooter an Oscar winning 2004 short film by Martin McDonagh it’s currently available on Vimeo and it’s got exploding cows and most would call it nonsensical but I might have an explanation for it?
As a DVD extra on Three Billboards, I decided to follow up and see the provided short on the disc. Six Shooter is bizarre. Take the time to watch it because it’s a thinker.
The story is detached from reality that it’s safe to say that understanding this story is purely allegorical; rich in metaphoric and symbolic meaning. The most clear would be the idea of losing one’s religion or lacking faith. The dead wife grasps a cross in her hand, “David” the bunny could be symbolic of innocence and religion with how prominent bunnies are attached to Easter. While easy to identify the symbolic religious elements it does greatly reinforces the gravity of the situation.
Through tone and early lighting schemes we definitely connect that the film is about coping with grief. It’s possible that the chosen location of a train is significant to this narrative. Mimicking the process of grief, a train goes in motion but lacks agency as it is binded by the tracks laid in front of it. The few characters we see also demonstrate how one gets off this train in multiple fashions that replicate multiple outcomes to on suffering from intense grief or mourning.
My major theory is that the characters on the train are modeled after freudian model of the subconscious. Our main character who looks like Christopher Nolan and Guillermo Del Toro blended into one person sits in an almost empty train car with a younger fellow and a married couple. The younger gent’s moxie, as he’s unruly and unfiltered willing to run his mouth and actions without any seeming care of the consequences made him seem less like “person” and rather a representation of Freud’s Id. Id is the part of the subconscious that is purely instinctual and is strongly associated with immaturity and irrational. Our characters oddly enough also seem to fit the bill as the couple comprises the superego which is moral center that counterbalances the Id which could be why the couple took such offense to the younger fellow’s foul language. Then our main character would be representing the Ego which mediates with the id (sits with him), and the outside world (we actually get to see this character interact with outside and other parts of the train), and ultimately be the decision-maker between the two influencers (the ending ultimately displays a decision being made). I think this is an interesting piece to incorporate a psycho-analytical lens to an since there is a line that references Freud then there may be some validity to this theory.
I think Three Billboards is a much improved effort by director Martin McDonagh but Six Shooter is a free watch right now that really gives insight into his personal style that his film’s are filled to the brim with them. If you haven’t seen Three Billboards, be prepared because I don’t think it’s what you think it is but it’s still everything you’d want it to be. If you have, and enjoyed it I would recommend Six Shooter as the oddity of it is bizarre but ultimately thought-provoking and only further inspires me to be sure to check out McDonagh next project? What did you think did you watch and enjoy either of these films? What’s your thoughts? Let me know, comment below? Be sure to come back for A Wrinkle in Time and I’ll see you at the movies.