Movie Review: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Michael Ambrosino, Entertainment Editor

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges,” “Seven Psychopaths”) “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is true, powerful, darkly funny and emotionally moving. Conveyed  through the outstanding work of writing, directing and especially acting, this film has a whole lot of humanity under its explosion of vicious laughs.

“What’s the law on what you can and cannot say on a billboard? I assume you can’t say nothin’ defamatory and you can’t say f***, p*** or c***, that right?”

The emotional but strong Mildred Hayes, played fiercely by Frances McDormand, asks this question early in the movie after being struck with the idea of calling out the town’s incompetent police department. Hayes’ daughter was raped and murdered, and in her eyes, Ebbing’s cops “is too busy torturing black folk to solve actual crimes.”

Angry, Hayes pays $5,000 for a month’s placement of three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. They read: “Raped While Dying,” “Still No Arrests” and “How Come, Chief Willoughby?” Naturally, Hayes draws in some serious attention from both the police department and townspeople, especially Chief Willoughby himself, played by Woody Harrelson.

As tension builds between Hayes and the police and the act two turning point takes full effect, “Three Billboards” roars to its moving final moments with dark humor, genuine emotion and a big, beating heart.

This is a marvelous film and one of the very best of 2017. McDonagh, McDormand, Harrelson and the terrific Sam Rockwell take you on a wild, rousing and moving journey through blood, tears and a search for justice.