Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri comes from writer and director Martin McDonagh and tells the story of a grieving mother who rents out three billboards to try and push the local authorities’ to solve herdaughter’s murder. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Frances McDormand, Woody Harrleson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage. Other character actors appear throughout the film to round out the townspeople of Ebbing. Like previous Martin McDonagh films (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) this film is very much a dark comedy that, at times, can be hilarious and at other times tug on the heartstrings. McDonagh is great at blending serious dramatic overtones with dark comedy, creating a cohesive and real story with characters who you believe would be acting in the way they do in those types of situations.
The standouts in the cast are Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. McDormand is the grieving mother, Mildred Hayes who, all throughout the film, is unapologetic for what she says and does. She is a force to be reckoned with, but at times vulnerable. We see the grief she is still going through and how she is having trouble raising her son. McDormand delivers a tour de force performance. At times when she is cracking skulls around town you laugh, but when we see her with her son or thinking about her lost daughter, it is gut wrenching to watch. Sam Rockwell is Officer Jason Dixon who is one of the deputies in the police department. He’s a racist and sometimes not to bright. It’s so wonderful to see where the character is when we first see him and where he is at the end of the movie. The dramatic shift in the character works because of the writing and Rockwell’s performance.
Overall, Three Billboards works so well as a character piece and story. This film has one of the best ensembles of the year with Oscar-worthy performances from both McDormand and Rockwell. Three Billboards may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is well worth the watch if you are a fan of Martin McDonagh or if you want to watch an eccentric black comedy with a captivating story and idiosyncratic characters.