A frustrated and grieving mother (Frances McDormand) antagonizes her local police force (including Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell) to call attention to the lack of progress in the search for her daughter’s killer, in the latest from dark-humour master Martin McDonagh.
Strong, brave, fed up with bullshit, and desperate for justice, Mildred Hayes might be 2017's Woman of the Year. After months have passed without an arrest in her daughter's murder, Mildred (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, postering three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson), the town's revered chief of police. When his second-in-command, Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) — an immature mother's boy with a penchant for violence — gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement escalates.
Martin McDonagh (who won an Academy Award for his debut short film) has created a darkly comic drama that is smart, narratively unpredictable, and filled with superb performances. As with McDonagh's previous work (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) the focus of Three Billboards is on character-driven plot. Even McDonagh's most irredeemable characters are momentarily sympathetic and evolving, allowing us to embrace the hopefulness that implies.
On its surface, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a film about grief, forgiveness, anger, and resilience. Yet McDonagh layers in myriad observational moments about racism, war, sexism, and a deeply divided society, all captured in this fictional Missouri town. Ever present is a low-simmering tension that occasionally bursts into violence but always in the service of releasing emotion that a character is unable to articulate.