A sad, sad movie with a comic undertone, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri follows a mother who uses three billboards to challenge the police in her small town, after her daughter is murdered and the culprit never caught.
Mildred (Frances McDormand), mother of Angela (Kathryn Newton) and Robbie (Lucas Hedges), is a stubborn woman with a bone to pick. She sells her abusive ex-husband’s tractor-trailer in order to purchase the advertising rights to three large billboards hidden away on a quiet road that no one goes down.
The posters target the town sheriff, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), a good cop who was never able to catch a break. Fellow cop Dixon (Sam Rockwell), has a history of violence and racism, and as such, gives the police in town a bad name. Mildred goes up against Willoughby, Dixon, the town and the law, and things get messy – sometimes even hilariously so.
Martin McDonagh, director and writer of Three Billboards, moved away from the typical storyline of love and loss that is so common in movies today and instead explored less chartered waters. He created an emotive film that recognised the gravity of rape and brutality, while also allowing for gaps in which the lighter side of things could get in.
Throughout Three Billboards, McDonagh highlights the good in people. He allows for character development in a multitude of ways and reminds us that though there are bad things in this world, there is so much good, and often hiding in places we wouldn’t think to look.
McDonagh throws some unexpected twists into the film that I definitely hadn’t seen coming. With Three Billboards, he broke away from the norm. The acting throughout the movie was executed with incredible finesse and emotion of the like I haven’t seen in some time.
Three Billboards is a desolate film that explores the traumatic reality of life, while also giving the audience an opportunity to laugh at the twisted hilarity of it all.
Frances McDormand was hesitant to take the role when it was offered, but was eventually convinced by her husband, Joel Coen: “Because at the time he gave it to me I was 58… I was concerned that women from this socioeconomic strata did not wait until 38 to have their first child. So we went back and forth and we debated that quite for a while, and then finally my husband said, ‘Just shut up and do it.'”