Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)


Cast includes: Frances McDormand (Fargo), Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out), Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Abbie Cornish (Bright Star), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Samera Weaving (The Babysitter), Clarke Peters (Marley & Me)
Writer/Director: Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths)
Genre: Comedy | Drama (115 minutes)


Huffington Post

The Huggies ads from 1986 on those three billboards out on Drink Water Road have almost rotted away. Mildred Hayes barely sees them any more as she drives home everyday… but today she stops to notice them and the faded logo at the bottom… “Ebbing Advertising Company.” “How much to rent those billboards on Drink Water Road for a year?” she asks Red Welby at the billboard company. Red… probably the world’s worst salesman… knows this sale is going to backfire. But what she’s asking for isn’t illegal. Mildred pays $5,000 for the first month and hands Red a sheet of paper with the words she wants on each billboard… “Raped while dying,” “Still no arrest,” How come, Chief Willoughby?” “Kind of a problem,” says Officer Dixon when he calls and interrupts the chief’s Easter Sunday dinner. “Not at liberty to divulge that kind of information,” says Red when Dixon shows up asking about who paid for the billboards. Never mind… “it's obviously Mildred Hayes.” It’s been a year since her daughter, Angelia, was raped, murdered, set on fire and burning to a crisp. And during that year, the case has gone stone cold.

“No one saw anything and there’s no DNA match,” Chief Willoughby explains. Mildred says they should, “pull DNA from every male in the country over the age of 8.” Mildred is not in the mood to be patient any more. Still, Chief Willoughby thinks he can work on Mildred’s sympathy. When he tells her about his cancer diagnosis, she says she already knew. “Everyone in town knows… but the billboards won’t be as effective if I wait ‘til you choke.” Mildred’s minister comes by the house to make a case, too… “The town is dead-set against these billboards, Mildred.” “You took a poll, did ya?” When she shares her thoughts about being “culpable,” the man of God suddenly decides to retreat. But he’s not the only Ebbinger to pressure Mildred about the billboards. With all the drama over the billboard issue, it would be easy to forget that Angelia’s killer is still out there. But Mildred will never forget.

If you’re wondering whether you’ll enjoy Three Billboards, I’d suggest if you loved Fargo, you’ll enjoy Three Billboards, even though it’s not a Coen brother’s film. It has a lot in common with the Coen brother’s style of dark humor, including the lead actor Frances McDormand. If you’ve seen In Bruges, an earlier Martin McDonagh film, you’ll see that McDonagh is likely to become another strong voice in this genre. Frances McDormand is excellent as the complicated but determined Mildred. Other standouts are Sam Rockwell as the hotheaded police officer, Dixon, and Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby. But that said… this film doesn’t have a single actor who doesn’t deliver a memorable performance. The secret sauce of this film is that every aspect is first rate, from the script, to the direction, cinematography, casting and acting. Put it all together with McDonagh’s dark quirky humor, and Three Billboards is a winner… assuming you like the genre.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Frustrated mother of a murdered daughter rents three billboards to help focus the minds of the police, who haven’t solved the case

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Language, Violence)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Bold
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Taking the law into her own hands
Language: Irreverent
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment 

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