By Sumayyah Daisy Lane, BA History
Star rating: 5/5
Laughter, love and loss come together in Martin McDonagh’s latest heart-wrencher, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Grieving mother Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) fights for justice after her daughter was raped and murdered and hears nothing from the local police for seven months. The title makes the plot fairly obvious, however what the audience does not expect is to see the three billboards which Mildred rents that taunt police chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) put up in the first few minutes. The movie then follows the reactions it receives from the town – “anger only begets more anger”.
Equal parts a lesson and laugh, the opening scene of Three Billboards prompts us to believe that we have the main characters all figured out, but this is far from the truth. Our minds are forced to change as we witness the journey each embarks on, either to redemption or ruin. The seeming enemy that is called out in the billboards that read “Raped while dying”, “Still no arrests”, “How come, Chief Willoughby?” is later revealed to be the hero who shows compassion of some variation to all those around him. In this way, the film is not restricted to telling Mildred’s painful story. On the contrary, it follows the journey of a community who are given the chance to prove that they are more than the sum of their sins, most especially the dim, racist Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell).
Packed with numerous powerful scenes and performances alike, Three Billboards is a humour meets heartbreak, rendering it one of the best films to have been released so far this year that is sure to stay with you – so much so that in recent news, Grenfell activists adopted the concept of pitching up three billboards around central London to highlight a similar lack of development in the case of the fire’s victims, thus serving to emphasise both the film’s brilliant casting and plotline.