10 months after the rape and murder of her teenage daughter Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) decides to put up three posters on unused billboards outside her town. These billboards confront the local police, in particular the much loved police chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) angering his idiotic deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) and the townsfolk. What proceeds are unforeseeable darkly humorous scenes between Mildred and all who get in her way.
The film is good, crisply written and performed by the three leading actors, with McDormand being nominated for a best actress Oscar. However the content is over reliant on the main protagonist’s story and as a consequence fails to explore the racial issues which the film makes fleeting references to. This, in my opinion is careless, and will not sit well with many in the audience. Mildred is amoral, we get that, but the plot’s halfhearted mention of racism and police brutality seems like a very shallow accessory used to decorate the plot rather than establish any kind of dialogue.
Nonetheless, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is worth watching. It is very funny and will have you laughing with out question one minute and teary eyed the next.
I have never sat in a cinema and thought I’d rather be at the dentist before, but this film really did induce filling fantasies! Not because it had anything to do with teeth, but rather because I couldn’t help but wonder which was more painful!
The film begins with Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) smoking and driving around in his police car, in fact he is sucking on a cigarette in nearly every scene, if tobacco advertising wasn’t illegal there would definitely be lots of opportunities for product placement here. Brown is a self-possessed, deluded and corrupt policeman from LA’s Rampart department, which was found to be riddled with corruption in the 1990s. Brown convinces himself that he is administering justice during his many fracases with unsuspecting criminals. His relationships are all unsuccessful with his eldest daughter amusingly addressing him as ‘Date Rape’, a nickname he obtained after supposedly ridding the streets of bad guys a few years earlier.
Ice Cube makes an appearance as Kyle Timkins who is assigned to investigate the corruption charges against Brown but is not on screen long enough, instead we are forced to endure the twisted exploits of the deranged and unlikable Brown. It’s not that Harrelson’s acting is unconvincing or inadequate, in fact he plays the role very well and has received praise from newspapers such as The Guardian for his performance, it is rather that, unlike similar characters in films like Training Day and Bad Lieutenant, his character does not make enough of an emotional impact for us to care about whether he is brought down by his arrogance or sacrifices himself in repentance. One of the best things for me about seeing this movie was that it only cost £3.50 courtesy of The Coronet Cinema’s discounted ticket prices on a Tuesday!