Saturday, December 9, 2017

Movie Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

In a small town on a small road, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) decides that she wants justice for her daughter's murder so she puts up three billboards calling out Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) for not arresting anyone. She purchases the advertising space from Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones). Deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) is angered by the posters and threatens everyone from Welby to Mildred to try and take them down but no crime has been committed. Complicating matters is that Chief Willoughby is dying of pancreatic cancer. Mildred's son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) is upset by the signs because he has tried to avoid the details of his sister's death. Most of the town turns against Mildred and comes out to support Chief Willoughby. 

Mildred experiences backlash even having to drill a hole in the thumb of the dentist in one chill-inducing scene while her face is injected with novocaine. At the local bar, Dixon confronts Red, Mildred, and James (Peter Dinklage), who is addressed derogatorily. Dixon continues to find ways to terrorize Mildred getting an idea from his mom (Sandy Martin) to arrest Mildred's co-worker Denise (Amanda Warren). Chief Willoughby brings Mildred in as the dentist decides to press charges but in the interrogation room the Chief coughs blood on her face and is taken to the hospital but not before insisting that Mildred is set free. Willoughby learns that he will not last much longer so decides to take a day off with his two daughters and his wife Anne (Abbie Cornish).

Mildred faces off against her abusive ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes) who left her for a much younger woman. Charlie orders Mildred to take down the signs but she refuses even as he threatens her violently and Robbie has to step in with a knife. It is revealed in a flashback that Mildred taunted her daughter, Angela (Kathryn Newton) about walking alone on the road where she died. Welby also has to ask Mildred for another month's rent for the billboards but before they can negotiate, a mysterious donor delivers the payment in cash. After having an enjoyable day with his family, Chief Willoughby writes a few notes and goes out to his barn to shoot himself in the head. The Chief's death leaves a ripple of repercussions and in one note to Mildred, he reveals that he paid for the billboard forcing her to defend it after his death.

Dixon is so upset that he marches over to Welby's shop and beats up the proprietor of the ad agency and throws him out the window right in front of the new replacement chief, Abercrombie (Clarke Peters) who fires him once he takes over. A man enters Mildred's store and threatens her but he leaves when Angela shows up to deliver the suicide note. Driving home that night, Mildred and Robbie find the billboards on fire. They try to put them out but it is destroyed. Mildred believes Dixon set the fires so she takes revenge on the police by throwing flaming bottles at the station. Dixon is inside, though Mildred didn't know it, and he is burned badly. James covers for Mildred and invites her on a date. On the date, Charlie arrives to taunt Mildred and James but Mildred does not take revenge. Dixon recovers from his burns and finds a suspect who he scratches the face of to get his DNA but receives a beating in the process. He gets Mildred's hopes up but it turns out to not be the killer. Mildred is able to put up the billboards again with copies of the sign. Dixon decides to take revenge on the men who he thinks is a rapist and includes Mildred. Together they drive to Idaho agreeing to decide whether to kill the man when they get there.

The film offers plenty of surprises. The twists and turns are unexpected as they are terrible. The characters are not always the most likable and Dixon inexplicably gets redemption even though he commits some of the most heinous crimes. France McDormand's performance is the most enjoyable of the film and she brings her all-star talent to Martin McDonagh's script. McDonagh also directs a plot that plays out in tragic yet comical form. I enjoyed the film for the most part but recognize some of the issues it fails to fully flesh out and the easy redemption it offers some of its more despicable characters. The film should get some awards recognition but may suffer from some controversy. 

No comments:

Post a Comment