+ Recommended – R, Dramedy
Where to start? Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri will take audiences on an emotional roller-coaster. In the same scene you will find yourself crying and laughing; sometimes even in the same piece of dialogue. Here, we have beautifully flawed characters and a definitive setting that helps to maintain a consistent tone for the story being told. From the opening seconds of dialogue to the last bit of conversation, Three Billboards will clasp your attention and never let go.
Martin McDonagh, known for In Bruges (2008) and Seven Psychopaths (2012), strikes a home run with his third feature length film. Martin’s knack for writing dark comedy draws the focus towards the deep character study that the film has to offer. Not one moment fell flat or was distasteful in any way. And with the subject matter at hand, it’s particularly astonishing.
In the movie we follow Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand). A grieving mother who demonizes the town’s police force and scolds them for the way in which they are handling the investigation of her daughter’s brutal death. She specifically targets Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) with three billboards she has purchased along side an abandoned highway on the outskirts of town. They read: “Raped while dying,” onto the next, “And still no arrests,” lastly, “How come, Chief Willoughby?”
While Mildred portrays the protagonist of the story, her subsequent actions are often impulses built upon frustration; jolting the story forward with conflict. Woody Harrelson, straying from his usual snarky performance, brings refreshingly subtle energy to the table as his character confronts ignominy and the crucifixion of himself as being the town’s villain. These characters truly care about one another and the sharp, witty dialogue aids the emotional impact of the story. At the heart, Three Billboards flawlessly executes a narrative on moral decision making and most of all, personal redemption.