By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
In the new movie, “Three Billboard’s Outside of Ebbing, Missouri,”
Frances McDormand plays a single-parent grieving the murder of her daughter and vows revenge on the small-town police department that has seemingly dragged their feet on catching the killer.
It’s a dark, chilling and riveting performance from McDormand and arguably her best ever.
I know that’s saying a lot considering McDormand has won an Oscar for “Fargo” (1996), a Tony for the Broadway play “Good People” (2011) and an Emmy for HBO’s miniseries, “Olive Kitteridge (2014).
And if fate is kind, McDormand should be front and center among this year’s Oscar pack for “Best Actress.”
McDormand isn’t the only thing that sells “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.” Director Martin McDonagh (“Seven Psychopaths” and “In Bruges”) has written a film that sizzles with profound and often profane dialogue.
McDonagh also gets the most out of his cast which includes: Woody Harrelson, (“War for the Planet of the Apes”), Sam Rockwell (“Seven Psychopaths” and “TV’s “F is For Family”) John Hawkes (“Everest”), Abbie Cornish (“Geostorm”), Caleb Landry Jones (“The Florida Project” and TV’s “Twin Peaks”), Clarke Peters, (TV’s “The Deuce” and “Chance”), Lucas Hedges (“Lady Bird” and “Manchester by the Sea”), Zejlko Ivanek, (TV’s “Madam Secretary”) and Peter Dinklage (TV’s “Game of Thrones”).
Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is trying to stay strong and raise her teenage son Robbie (Hedges). It’s not easy because he misses his sister and is trying to cope with the loss just as much as his mother.
Rather than sit and mope about the police department’s perceived lack of effort in finding the killer, Mildred decides to do something drastic. One day while driving with Robbie she notices three huge old billboards on the highway with nothing on them.
So, Mildred rents the three billboards and posts some scathing messages directed at the police chief, William Willoughby (a sensational Harrelson). Although Chief Willoughby doesn’t seem too bothered by them, his second-in-command officer Jason Dixon (Rockwell), a real red-neck hillbilly and mama’s boy, goes ballistic.
The billboards also capture the attention of the local media who pounce on the story and soon turn this crazy town upside down.
Officer Dixon leads the charge to restore “law and order” and goes after Mildred, her close friend Denise (Amanda Warren, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”) and even Red Welby (Jones) the owner of the Ebbing Advertising company that rented Mildred the billboards. Red has a brutal encounter with Jason and barely lives to talk about it.
Someone must stop the madness swirling around town and in the police department. Enter Sheriff Abercrombie (Peters). He’s been hired to turn the department around. Of course, Jason is the first one he fires and all that does is add more fuel to this raging fire.
There are so many plot twists and turns in in this fiercely uncompromising, humorous and tragic film that you won’t want it to end.
I hope more than anything, “Three Billboards Outside of Missouri” is shown plenty of love come Awards time. It’s excellent.
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Check Out This Trailer For "THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI."
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.