‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ was written and directed by the mega- talented playwright/screenwriter Martin McDonagh (‘In Bruges’). This film is in one word, incredible.
Francis McDormand gives a brilliant, Oscar worthy performance as Mildred Hayes, a woman who is consumed with rage and despair since the rape and murder of her daughter, Angela some seven months ago. Mildred feels that the police department run by Chief Willoughby (the excellent Woody Harrelson) has been very lax in trying to find her daughter’s killer. There wasn’t any DNA and the investigation has run cold.
When the film begins, Mildred is driving down a deserted road when she sees three empty tattered billboards next to where her daughter was found burnt to death after the rapist was done with her. Mildred is desperate to bring the person responsible for this horrific act to justice, so she pays $5000 to rent the billboards for a month and has three messages painted on them: Still No Arrests, How come Chief Willoughby?, Raped While Dying.
The chief is angry about the billboards but not as angry as the townspeople. They are enraged that Mildred has attacked their revered Chief of Police and it doesn’t take long for the whole town to turn against her, especially when her story is picked up by the local media.. But Mildred doesn’t care and she lets everyone including the local dentist and priest know this in a very brutal and unflinching way.
Mildred’s move to embarrass the police department leads to events that involve not only the Chief, but his bigoted officer, (the extraordinary Sam Rockwell) a brutal racist/momma’s boy.
Mildred’s rage is so intense, so raw, and Miss McDormand brings it all out giving the most passionate, searing performance of her career. She is absolutely stunning to watch. In fact, everyone in the cast including John Hawkes as her abusive ex husband, Peter Dinklage as the local drunk who tries to befriend Mildred, Lucas Hedges, who rents her the billboards, and Abbie Cornish as the Chief’s wife are all so good.
‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ‘takes you to very dark and intense places. McDonough, who is considered one of the most important living Irish playwrights in Ireland, doesn’t hold back. He takes you to the depths of despair, making us feel everything that these characters are going through, but somehow he meanages to infuse the film with humor…black powerful humor, but nonetheless, humor.
The film never goes where you expect it to go. Characters transform and definitely surprise you. ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri’ opens November 10, 2017 and if you see only one film this year, it should be this one.