It hurts my head how good his story is metaphorically and how powerful his command is on symbolism.
Martin McDonaugh, who wrote this script along with In Bruges, which too got nominated for the best original screenplay in Oscars, has an earnest sense towards philosophy. Though he tells his stories with crime in his mind, the emotional aspect of the actions taken by his characters and even his world, are always emotionally driven. He romanticizes the idea of Mildred’s rebellious nature. I find the script’s major theme dwelling between the past and the present. And Mildred, though being the protagonist, is fixated on her past. And how does Martin breathe heroism in her deeds? That is by romanticizing her actions. She repeatedly goes out her way to be fantastical in this pragmatic world. Her actions are often and at times literally fire blazing when she charges. And if Mildred, as a protagonist, is stuck in the past then so is Dixon. And to my surprise, Martin almost gives Dixon, a hero’s journey to walk out from the past, he is buried under. And then comes, my favourite character, Willoughby, who, thematically, is the future and hence Martin feels necessary to remove him out of the equation. For these two parallel characters, Dixon and Mildred, they both have the arc to evolve from their past to the present form. And it is then, their story ends, though few people might argue that the plot doesn’t. Martin has repeatedly done this in his career. Most similar, that I find, is In Bruges to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, since not the plot but the story is prioritized. Not what the characters do but what they think is emphasized. And personally, I feel like this is something that can be easily misfired. Just going through all the conversations that Mildred and Willoughby have. If we extract those scenes and analyze on its own, they would come off empty. Kind of like trash talks that doesn’t take itself seriously but doesn’t mock it either. And this is how Martin makes each character’s thinking, philosophy and theories powerful. For visually, crafting people’s opinion into a compelling narrative could be a tricky job. Maybe, that is why he often wraps his characters in a crime world, crime genre. You have both endless possibilities in terms of how violent can your film grow and a general sense of expectations that narrows down the viewer’s open-minded nature. Martin cuts right through these norms of the genre and gives us pure drama. Something I am always hungry for. A proper structure, poetic vocabulary, fantastical heroic journey and gut-wrenching sharp dialogues feels just like a cherry on top when you dive into Martin’s subtextual theme. Which is one of the main reasons why the confessional scene with the deer and Mildred, speaks so powerfully to everyone. Martin breaks the fourth wall and also doesn’t. You’re not thrown aback by the approach and awareness of Mildred’s existence in a story but are enchanted towards it.