Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Stars: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Caleb Landry Jones
Irish writer-director McDonagh’s dark comedy drama is his most dramatically rich piece to date. Frustrated that the police have been unable to solve her daughter’s brutal murder after several months, single mum Mildred Hayes (McDormand) hires out the titular three billboards in order to shame the authorities into action, with police chief Willoughby (Harrelson) coming in for specific criticism. As it turns out, Willoughby is a sympathetic family man with his own very real problems to deal with. Nevertheless the feud comes to involve the whole town and when Willoughby’s deputy, the brutish, thick, and racist Officer Dixon (Rockwell, funny and thankfully dialling down the quirk) gets involved matters deteriorate very quickly. A little overlong maybe, but the performances are uniformly great, while McDonagh’s riotously funny, irreverent and bold dialogue, as well as his penchant for brutal violence, is tempered by a genuine empathy for the characters. Mildred transcends the mere sweary lady of a certain age mooted in the trailers, while the damaged Dixon turns out to be a casualty of his spiteful and bullying mother. And McDonagh wraps the various threads up nicely with a dramatically satisfying conclusion.