Seven Oscar-nominated, director and co-producer Martin McDonagh’s film, running at 115 minutes is a darkly-comic, entertaining and thought-provoking piece of art. It tells of a mother’s fight for justice for her teenaged daughter, who seven months ago was raped and murdered and whose perpetrators are yet to be identified and brought to books.
Oscar Winner (Best Actress) Frances McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, an estranged mother who hires three billboards near her house which read, “RAPED WHILE DYING”, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?” and “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?” This gets the attention she has been seeking- whilst at the same time it rocks the town with opinions split amongst its people.
Very, very realistic and the audience is able to identify with the crisis at once- particularly those who would ceremoniously come out for a candlelight march in protest against the violation and murder of an individual, rather than actually do anything more concrete about it. Is it not true that so many of us would actually look the other way, when the modesty of a lady is being outraged, right in front of our eyes?
Therein Three Billboards, makes an instant connection with the hoi-polloi, staring the crime into our face, to tell us more than a mere presentation of the evil incident.
Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell- Oscar Winner- Best Supporting Actor) are not amused by Hayes’ action and pull her in for interrogation. Whilst the Chief is rushed to hospital, during questioning, (he’s dying of cancer) he gets Dixon, who is no joy to any non-white townsfolk as a devoted racist and alcoholic; to set Hayes free.
In the events which follow, Willoughby commits suicide- he can’t bear the pain to see his wife and children suffering- and leaves each of the stakeholders (his closest) suicide notes – for he believes in each of their causes.
In sheer comic irony he also leaves Hayes more than a mere apology for not having taken her too seriously and pushed far enough- he actually paid for another month for the billboards- so that her cause is alive.
Dixon in the meanwhile is fired by the new Chief, as he gets more than berserk and cannot handle Bill’s death, kicking up a violent row with businessman Red Welby, who had rented Hayes the boards.
Dead Chief Bill’s note to Dixon says that he believes the officer has the potential to become a successful detective, only when he learns to love and forgive.
Through a destined series of events, Mildred and Dixon make their peace and set out on a common mission, putting the ghosts of the past to rest.
With some unforgettable performances, this simple yet gripping story of a fight for justice, amidst the daily chaos of life, keeps alive the light of hope, flickering though, yet encouraged.
Comically violent and amazingly moving, Three Billboards should be a sure watch for you.
Rating : 4.5/5