Martin McDonagh (director)
155 mins (length)
11 January 2018 (released)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took home four Golden Globes recently and was nominated for nine BAFTAs, and it is just as impressive as those accolades would suggest.
It stars McDormand as Mildred Hayes, a grieving mother who is frustrated that the local law enforcement haven't discovered who raped and killed her daughter Angela months before.
To antagonise them for their failure to catch the culprit, Mildred rents out three unused billboards on a barely-used road outside of town and across them she asks, "Raped while dying", "And still no arrests?" and "How come, Chief Willoughby?"
Her billboards cause a stir with the local police, which include Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), the town residents, and achieve significant media coverage.
Willoughby is understanding and sympathises with Mildred, but Dixon is hot-headed, racist and childish and focuses on getting revenge on Mildred and getting the billboards taken down rather than trying to solve the case, so Mildred wages war against him.
The performances and the script are the standouts here. McDormand has been rightly lauded for her portrayal of Mildred, a cold, no-nonsense woman who is angry, fed up and doesn't hold back in telling people exactly what she thinks of them.
Her dialogue is a joy to behold - it is witty and razor-sharp, just like the rest of McDonagh's script, which truly deserved its recent Golden Globes win. It is so smart, observant and relevant, especially concerning relations between the police and African-Americans, and the main characters are well-written and given interesting story arcs.
Rockwell and Harrelson both give great performances, as well as the support cast, which includes Lucas Hedges as Mildred's son, Peter Dinklage as James, who likes Mildred, and Caleb Landry Jones as Red, who rents the billboards.
The movie may sound very dramatic and bleak but it tackles these tough subjects with comedy. The humour is very dark but is used often to keep the film light when it could easily be heavy-going. There are many laugh-out-loud moments and it is much more enjoyable and entertaining than the title or subject matter would suggest.