Oh man, this was a great movie. Director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths) has a gift for crafting well-balanced films. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was the perfect blend of dark humor and intense drama. Plus, a veteran cast (Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, Clarke Peters and Peter Dinklage) at the core. Actress McDormand might have even surpass her all-star performance from Fargo.
Could you tell I loved this movie? Three Billboards is a whirlwind of a movie compressed together with thought-provoking themes. It’s an unforgettable film for a crucial time in our history. McDonagh’s style and direction has never been better; has he emulates moments with anger and rage blended smoothly with comedy and relief. Our story follows a mother named Mildred (an electrifying McDormand) who personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder as they have failed to catch the culprit. Set in a rural fictional town of Missouri, Three Billboards captures the complex life of a small-town world.
Mildred decides to take matters into her own hands and rents three abandoned billboards near her home at $5,000 per month, which in sequence read: "Raped while dying", "Still no arrests?", and "How come, Chief Willoughby?" Well, that should rustle some feathers. The police don’t like this ridicule, especially Chief Willoughby (the never better Harrelson). Some of the townspeople are upset over the billboard’s content and demand that it be taken down, as do the police. But Mildred’s motive starts holding them accountable for their slack and clouded vision. Mildred proclaims to Chief Willoughby that the cops are "too busy torturing black folks." In Mildred’s defense, it’s not her fault that the local police force feels embarrassed by these billboards, it’s their job to go out and find who committed this horrendous crime.
Which leads us to momma's-boy deputy Dixon, played by the volcanic Sam Rockwell. Dixon’s racist anger will get your blood boiling and at other times send you applauding at his humane struggle in life. Dixon’s character is a love/hate relationship throughout the movie. In one scene Rockwell’s character is wildly funny and in other’s he’s fueling with rage and no moral consequence. Rockwell’s performance steals the show and is another shining moment in his career. Fingers crossed that Rockwell gets an Oscar nom for his supporting role in this darkly superb masterpiece. Which leads us back to this rousing narrative, Three Billboards is a complex film full of hard-hitting ideas and moral consequences.
Mildred will do anything to get justice for her beloved daughter even if that’s breaking the law herself. The film holds as an accountability for struggles and griefs in everyday life. McDonagh’s raw emotion is well-balanced by dark humor to help guide the viewers to the resolution of this story. Three Billboards constantly keeps us off balance, but never loses its own. This could only be done in the hands of master, McDonagh’s script is a tour de force in writing. Three Billboards is a wrenching tragedy filled with shocking moments and wild rides. It stands as one of the top films of 2017. It deserves all five stars from me and will go down as one of my favorite films from this year. Like adding salt to an open wound, this film rubs you raw. In the end, Three Billboards is revelation that’s fierce and not afraid to show its teeth.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is rated R (Restricted). For violence, language throughout, and some sexual references.