I’m excited to share my thoughts of this one. Why? Because it was filmed in North Carolina. That’s right! Do not let the title fool you, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was filmed in and around the Asheville-area including Sylva and Black Mountain, which already gives it brownie points in my book. Martin McDonagh’s film has a pretty simple premise but it’s anything but simple.
We meet Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) who is fed up with local authorities after months pass without a culprit in her daughter’s murder. Mildred notices billboards that are located on a road leading into town while driving that have been neglected since the construction of a bypass. She decides to buy advertising space on the billboards in an effort to call out police chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) for what she believes is his and his force’s lack of effort in solving her daughter’s case. But when Willoughby’s second-in-command, Officer Dixon, gets involved; the tension between Mildred, the police, and her fellow townsfolk only gets worse.
First thing’s first: McDormand unequivocally shines as Mildred. She already took home Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama at the Golden Globes and there is no reason why she should not pickup another win at the Oscars on Sunday. McDormand brings an incredible balance of vulnerability and ferocity to Mildred. I found myself empathizing with her and, at times, cheering her on in the sheer determination to find her daughter’s culprit. Let me tell you, I was intrigued by every stinking moment of the film. From beginning to end. It was witty, riveting, darkly comedic, and superbly directed.
It was also a raw, authentic film. McDonagh recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone about traveling on a bus - somewhere in the South about 20 years ago - when he saw billboards. The very basis of his film. These billboards had similar appeals on them that inspired his Mildred character’s challenges to local police. I believe it’s pretty incredible how one moment in McDonagh’s life, something that the Londoner saw while traveling in the U.S., can stick with him some 20 years later and inspire him to produce one of the best films of the year. Three Billboards is hands down a must see.
I Give It An: A+
Check Out The Trailer Here