Do not, under any circumstances, miss this movie. It’s one of the most unique and highly entertaining films of the year. Written and directed by the skilled and very distinguished Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), whose work never fails to impress, bewilder and engage you, likewise, Three Billboards will surprise you, shock you, delight you as well as alarm you. I don’t know what I was expecting going in but what I got was purely visceral and elicited, more than once, a stirring of genuine discomfort for what Mildred (McDormand) was going through.
Important to pull you in, all characters in the film are rich in tone and have strong personalities. From the target of the Billboards, chief of police Willoughby (Harrelson), to his hotheaded underling, Dixon (Rockwell), the players of the narrative are well developed and entrenched within a captivating and engrossing story about despair and hopelessness. The film is beautifully shot with fitting music to accompany the actors who are expertly cast for each role. All things considered, this is easily one of the best films of the year.
A tragedy happened in Ebbing, almost an entire year previous, that changed Mildred’s, an independent and strong divorced mother of two, life forever; her teenage daughter, Angela (Kathryn Newton), was raped and murdered. In a flashback scene, we learn that Mildred has every reason to feel a little guilty for it happening. Though Mildred has a son to live for, she has been devastated by her loss and refuses to let the police sit and allow her daughter’s death to go unsolved any longer. Fearing they’re not doing as much as they should and that Angela’s death is turning into a cold case, she rents Three Billboards and posts messages to Chief Willoughby, reminding him that he has an unsolved murder on his hands, lest he had forgotten. In a deep red with black lettering the signs read, ‘Raped While Dying,’ ‘And Still No Arrests?’ and ‘How Come, Chief Willoughby?’
After the billboards, with their very potent and direct messages of what happened to her daughter and who it is not doing anything about her murder, go up, Mildred draws unwanted attention from everyone in town. She finds that Willoughby has many admirers and that the citizens of Ebbing don’t appreciate her attacking and questioning him the way that she has. It’s at this point we learn more about his current situation and suddenly a suspect list begins to emerge; so do outstanding performances.
Every word McDormand’s Mildred utters is done so with such diligence and precision that the anguish Mildred is suffering through practically assaults you as the characters in the film assault one another. You’ll agree that McDormand will be a strong contender for an Academy Award this year but so might Sam Rockwell be with his turn here as the slightly deranged mama’s boy of a police officer who’ll stop at nothing to support his boss. With these two actors at the helm, and an almost muted offering by Harrelson who is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, you’ll not only be happy you saw this movie this weekend but you’ll get back in line to watch it again. The end leaves the audience to guess what ultimately happens so what better way to solve a mystery than to watch more closely and research everything once again for anything you may have missed.