Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Provocative Dialogue in a Unique Story 

Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell in some of their finest performances.

click to enlarge Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand square off in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
  • Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand square off in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.


Martin McDonagh is no longer the new kid in the neighborhood. When the London native playwright first tried to export his brand of violent, ironically comic stage drama — à la The Lieutenant of Inishmore — to American movie screens, the result was mixed. His offerings either clicked (In Bruges) or stank of imitation Tarantino (Seven Psychopaths). Now he's got the hang of it. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri shows how relaxed McDonagh can be in the wide-open spaces. It's easy; just get Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson.

Oh, there are a few free-range, cartoonish hicks running loose in the town of Ebbing, but the feud between a grieving mother named Mildred Hayes (McDormand) and the local establishment over the unsolved rape and murder of Mildred's teenage daughter has all the staccato snap, crackle, and pop we expect from a McDonagh crime story — plus that little something extra that only top-notch performers can bring.

Village outcast Mildred thinks Ebbing Chief of Police Willoughby (Harrelson), or his nasty assistant Dixon (Rockwell), or Dixon's repulsive mother (Sandy Martin), or someone, is covering up for her daughter's death, so Mildred rents three billboards to complain about the lack of investigation, in no uncertain terms. Mildred takes to revenge like a raccoon takes to the sandwich you left in the backyard. Matters degenerate from there. Mildred is one tough cookie.

McDormand, of course, is one of this country's finest players, and she shows it, Missouri-style, in one of the year's smartest performances by an actress. And Harrelson's electrified personality can make even the role of a dying man vivid. But the revelation of Three Billboards is Rockwell's tour-de-force Dixon, a rambling, shambling mama's boy with a mean streak, in a town chock-full of mean people. Rockwell (alongside Harrelson) kicked out the jams in Seven Psychopaths, but his Dixon may be the best thing he's ever done. McDonagh should cement Rockwell into his stock company. But we've left out John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Kathryn Newton, Zeljko Ivanek, and Samara Weaving. The flick is riddled with first-rate actors mouthing provocative dialogue in a unique story. Don't just sit there. See it immediately. 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Written and directed by Martin McDonagh. With Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Opens Friday.

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Latest in Movie Review

  • Black Cinema

    Fifteen Black-themed films you should've already seen.
    • Jun 10, 2020
  • A Star is Bored

    Coming soon to a screen near you: your own Covid-19-themed horror feature
    • May 27, 2020
  • Crossing the Streams

    From the new releases everyone's talking about to the cult classics they should be, here are five things to stream and skip this week.
    • Apr 22, 2020
  • More »

Author Archives

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

The Beer Issue 2020

The Decade in Review

The events and trends that shaped the Teens.

Best of the East Bay

2020

© 2020 Telegraph Media    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation