Writer/Director Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”) has made another AAW film, which I like even better. The film features a “tour-de-force” performance by Frances McDormand (as Mildred Hayes), who will certainly be nominated for an AW. It’s far-and-away my favorite film of 2017, and I haven’t seen a female actor’s 2017 performance yet that is better. Woody Harrelson (as Sheriff Bill Willoughby) and Sam Rockwell (as Officer John Dixon) also give AAW performances.
Mildred’s daughter, Angela, was “raped while dying.” About seven months have passed, but the killer is still at-large. Mildred, who is recently divorced, is grief-stricken and seething with rage about the tragedy. She doesn’t think the police are even trying to find the killer anymore. Out of desperation, she rents three unused billboards on an infrequently-traveled road, calling-out and humiliating Sheriff Willoughby and the Ebbing Police Department.
Officer Dixon is enraged about his current life circumstances. He’s also a cruel and violent racist. Very loyal to Willoughby, he predictably gets furious with Mildred about the billboards. Willoughby, a good man with a wife and two young daughters, has cancer and doesn’t need this extra battle in his life right now. The press soon gets interested in the billboards and the Angela murder mystery. All of this sets off a series of impossible-to-foresee adverse consequences. The three main characters are each flawed, well-developed, and fascinating.
The film is complex and multi-layered, but, despite its overall dark theme, is often quite funny. It asks – but has no answer – to the question “How do we cope with a life circumstance where rage is an appropriate response?” Can some life events be accepted and the perpetrator forgiven, or are some of us just unable to get there? Is justifiable revenge a satisfying resolution, or does it just create more problems?
This movie is a MUST-SEE!