The ways people allow themselves to be led by primitive emotions might make you weep, but Martin McDonagh prefers to mock them. His Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is surprising from start to finish. No wonder that this film won four awards at last week’s Golden Globes.
Can you still not shut up about Frances McDormand’s performance as a pregnant police detective in Fargo even though that classic by the Coen brothers is already 21 years old? Wait until you see her in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Only last week, McDormand won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her outstanding performance in this film.
She plays a divorced mother who can slay as many people with her sharp tongue as John Wayne slayed outlaws in his western movies. She is driven by immense sadness, guilt, and desire for revenge.
Her daughter was raped, burned, and murdered. The local police department in Ebbing, Missouri has abandoned the search for the killer. She thinks that is because they are too busy torturing the local black community. She tries to force the sheriff (Woody Harrelson) to take the investigation more seriously by putting up three provocative advertisements.
The film would have been excellent even if it had kept to her screams for attention and struggle for justice. Martin McDonagh, the Irish director and screenwriter who made his breakthrough with In Bruges, throws out lines and thoughts that will make you chuckle, shiver, and think. The anti-hypocritical provocateur knows no sacred cows. And his actors value the many little gems he has given them.
A few touches of slapstick keep this film grounded. Most of them are provided by Sam Rockwell. He plays a cop who can barely control his rage, racism, and idiocy, and who goes berserk whenever his boss gets in a tight spot.
But the film isn’t just about injustice. The devilish McDonagh frequently takes his story in directions that you will not expect unless you’ve seen the film more than once, and he pokes fun at our propensity to mess everything up. Depressing and invigorating.
> Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. US, dir.: Martin McDonagh, act.: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell