Dear Frances McDormand,
I know you're not terribly enamored with the whole awards season game but might be time to start working on that Oscar speech.
McDormand, per usual, is absolutely spectacular in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the latest effort from that riveting filmmaker and playwright Martin McDonagh. This is hardly a one-woman tour de force, however - McDormand, while incredible, is matched toe-to-toe by a remarkable ensemble cast, with several talents operating at the very tops of their game.
In the film, Woody Harrelson is the genial Police Chief William Willoughby, a figure seemingly adored by just about everyone in town. Well, that is, with the exception of Mildred Hayes (McDormand), whose teenage daughter was violently raped and murdered. Seven months since her death, Hayes is perturbed as ever at Willoughby for his failure to make progress in the investigation. So, she releases her exasperation via three billboards outside of town, targeting the chief for this perceived inaction.
Hayes' actions, no surprise, don't sit terribly well with all town residents, including Willoughby's second-in-command, Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a racist, buffoonish loose cannon who may or may not have some sense of decency tucked away inside. Her son Robbie (Lucas Hedges, in yet another terrific supporting turn) and ex-husband Charlie (John Hawkes), still devastated over their loss, are also none too pleased with the attention.
To delve any further into the plot would, I think, be unfair to my readers and to the picture, which includes some real jaw-droppers, both in dialogue and the events that transpire. I can guarantee, however, you will not be bored.
McDonagh packs a ton into his picture, touching upon issues of police brutality and incompetence, sexual assault, racism and more, while simultaneously operating as a family drama (McDormand even gets a Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People-like scene where she reflects on the past from her deceased child's bedroom) and pitch black comedy - and yet, even with all of these moving parts, Three Billboards is a remarkably focused and absorbing endeavor.
McDormand fans are in for a treat with her delicious turn here but Harrelson is also in top form and Rockwell is a legit revelation, adding layers to a character you think you've seen countless times before, until fate turns his Officer Dixon upside down. Peter Dinklage adds additional comic relief as a used car salesman with a crush on Hayes and then there's Sandy Martin, both a hoot and kind of terrifying as Dixon's colorful mama.
Three Billboards meets and perhaps even exceeds the sky-high expectations you'd have for a film with this supreme a cast and filmmaker.