Coming to theaters from writer/director Martin McDonagh and Fox Searchlight Pictures is the story of a mother who isn’t giving up using “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) is a woman dealing with a lot in her life. The painful loss of a murdered daughter, ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes) who has anger issues and chief of police William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) who she believes doesn’t care about catching her daughter’s killer.
Driving home on a small stretch of road are three dilapidated billboards and Mildred gets an idea. Responsible for the billboards is Red (Caleb Jones) who takes her down payment on all three billboards with a message to the chief of police. The first to see them is deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) who immediately tells Willoughby.
Everyone soon learns of the billboards and son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) is feeling the impact of what his mother is doing. Worried how this will all affect her chief of police husband, Anne (Abbie Cornish) is assured that it will all pass. Wanting to protect Mildred is James (Peter Dinklage) who Charlie takes a pot-shots at. Instead of it passing, things get out of hand as the insanity of Dixon and Mildred’s anger start a town war.
Small town living just got a little dicey!
McDormand as Mildred is spectacular, amazing, brilliant, moving, shocking and every bit of a woman tired of the B.S.! Feeling unheard by the police and thrown away by an abusive husband, one idea gives this character the remarkable strength to say, without a word, “I will be heard or else!” Every moment McDormand is on the screen I am completely riveted and engrossed with anticipation as to what she would do next. Nominations are in McDormand’s future and I, for one, will be cheering her every step of the way.
Harrelson as Willoughby is an understanding and tolerant man. He knows that Mildred is still riddled with grief and now feels the pressure even more that he hasn’t found the killer. He is also dealing with Dixon who is making matters worse with his antics. Spending time with his wife and kids is becoming more important as his secret hasn’t been a secret for quite some time. Harrelson is endearing and is impeccable with his character humor. This is the second time in the last few months that Harrelson has impressed me as his film “LBJ” should also be seen!
Rockwell as Dixon gets to bring out the inner complete douche bag of this character. Feeling he has the right to do whatever he wants to whoever he wants because he has a badge is an embarrassment to pretty much everyone in town. Deciding he isn’t going to stop being a jerk, Dixon once again takes matters into his own hands and it’s nothing but disaster. It sure doesn’t help that Momma Dixon (Sandy Martin) is stoking the fires.
Hedges as Robbie is a young man who understands what his mother has been through but doesn’t agree with how she handles things. Living the same pain about his sister every day as well, he watches her actions and can’t seem to make Mildred understand that nothing good can come of it all. Jones as Red is a laid-back kid who sees everything the town is about and when it comes to his door a choice has to be made.
Dinklage as James is a good-hearted guy who seems to have a soft spot for Mildred. He wants nothing more than to protect her – oh and date her. Hawkes as Charlie thinks that he can be as abusive as possible towards Mildred and the ex in ex-husband isn’t going to stop him and is certainly is a different role for Hawkes.
Other cast include Zeljko Ivanek as the Desk Sergeant, Amanda Warren as Denise, Kerry Condon as Pamela, Riya Atwood as Polly, Selah Atwood as Jane, Christopher Berry as Tony, Jerry Winsett as Geoffrey, Kathryn Newton as Angela, Samara Weaving as Penelope, Clarke Peters as Abercrombie, Malaya Drew as Gabriella, and Darrell Britt-Gibson as Jerome.
TUBS OF POPCORN: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” deserves, without a doubt, five tubs of popcorn out of five. This film has every range of human emotion possible and isn’t shy about making you feel it. A combination of the darkest of comedy mixed with jaw-dropping twists and drama that is engrossing is what makes this film from start to finish.
There isn’t anything apologetic in this film and each character has a life of its own. McDormand is powerful and doesn’t skip a beat in leading the film to its chuckling conclusion. Harrelson and Rockwell are polar opposites which is what makes their characters work and there is no surprise in what these two actors accomplish in this film.
The film does a dance with the viewer’s emotions and even sets of a shock or two but after seeing director McDonagh’s previous work such as “In Bruges” and a personal favorite “Seven Psychopaths,” could anyone not expect this film from him? I met McDonagh during his press junket for “Seven Psychopaths,” and I knew after speaking with him that I’d love anything he did. His sense of humor and way with characters comes out in every second of the film.
Writing the screenplay with McDormand in mind for the lead role, I am equally thrilled that he did so because she rules the screen as Mildred. This is a powerful film with exceptional performances that can not and should not be missed.
In the end – welcome to Ebbing, Missouri!