Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a darkly funny masterpiece. Oscar nods await, no doubt. It’s the story of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) a mother who is righteously pissed that local law enforcement hasn’t come any closer to catching her daughter’s killer after seven months. So she puts her anger on display on three billboards just outside town calling out law enforcement for not doing their job, eliciting an immediate reaction from the whole town – some with her, some not, mostly because she singles out the town’s beloved Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). One of his deputies (Sam Rockwell) who has some serious anger management issues of his own takes it as a slap to the whole department and retaliates, and things just escalate from there.
While the daughter’s unsolved rape and murder is the catalyst, the story is really more character driven. It’s about a small town full of wounded souls all dealing with their pain in the only ways they know how. Frances McDormand is simply amazing! And Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell give awards-worthy performances, too. But the film’s ultimate success derives from an incredible script that’s funny, and tragic, and raw. I loved writer/director Martin McDonagh’s 2008 film, In Bruges. But I think I may like this one even more. Leave the kids at home. It’s rated R for good reason.
My only quibble with it is that it wasted Peter Dinklage on a rather inconsequential character. Fun fact: It was shot just outside Asheville, NC in a little place called Sylva.
Mainstream Chick and I saw it at the Middleburg FIlm Festival and this was her take:
Word of mouth prompted a large turnout for a Sunday morning screening of Three Billboards on the last day of the Middleburg Film Festival. And word of mouth proved right. What a wild ride this movie is. It’s a darkly comic drama about an angry, grieving mother (Frances McDormand) who buys space for a year on three giant billboards leading into town, to shame the local police department into finding out who raped and killed her daughter. The film features a strong ensemble cast with standout performances from Woody Harrelson as the town’s revered police chief, and Sam Rockwell as his immature and violence-prone deputy. Three Billboards definitely wins for taking you through the gamut of emotions – heartbreak, humor, sympathy, anger, horror, brutality, shock. It’s a revenge movie like none other and deserves to be in the mix this Awards season.