There are certain rules in screenwriting that the experts suggest we follow. One of them is the dictum that everything on the page ought to further the plot. A narrative thrust throughout Three Billboards succeeds in that respect. Whether a scene is intended to develop character or to reveal the next plot element in what is an excellent piece of cinema, the charge that this movie is “well-made” (as critics have called the work of nineteenth century scribe Henrik Ibsen, among others) isn’t a pejorative.
To suggest, for instance, that one of helmer Martin McDonagh’s previous films, Seven Psychopaths, is not “well-made” could similarly be leveled at other Hollywood movies such as Kevin Smith’s Dogma, which would not have seen light (or so the rumour-mill has it) without the endorsements of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Movies such as these, one could argue, are beautiful ventures in a chaos usually reserved for “foreign films” or world cinema.
Three Billboards, however, is close to masterful in its structure, with its multiple strands woven together to create something very special. A rich seam of humour throughout is sometimes dark albeit laugh-out-loud funny. The relationship that Sam Rockwell’s Dixon character has with his mother is typical. Even when she isn’t onscreen, he suffers through taunts about his curfew from colleagues and antagonists. His racist, somewhat redeemed character’s arc is worthy of a movie on its own. Highly-recommended Oscar-winning cinema.