Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missori full of believable characters and exceptional performances

Dixon (Sam Rockwell) squares up against Mildred (Frances McDormand) in Three Billboards Outside Ebbi

Dixon (Sam Rockwell) squares up against Mildred (Frances McDormand) in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. - Credit: Archant

This third film from British writer/director Martin Mcdonagh stars Frances McDormand in the lead role of Mildred Hayes a grieving mother coming to terms with the brutal murder of her daughter. She hires three billboards outside her home town of Ebbing, to advertise the fact the local police department has yet to catch the killer.

Naming and shaming police chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the billboards enrage the police department as well as a number of local residents, including one Deputy Dixon played by Sam Rockwell, who takes it upon himself to make sure the controversial messages are removed.

Director McDonagh had the idea for the script after seeing billboards with similar anti police messages when passing through middle America and the result is a truly original piece of film making.

A pulsating and unpredictable drama with a darkly comic tone and some outstanding acting performances from its ensemble cast.

The film is up for best picture at this year’s Oscars ceremony and the three leads of McDormand, Harrelson and Rockwell have also been recognised with nominations for their acting.

McDormand is amazing as Mildred, a woman with the sharpest of tongues, beautifully expressing the mother’s thoughts and emotions with just her eyes.

Mildred will stop at nothing in her search for justice even if it means jeopardising the happiness of her remaining loved ones.

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Harrelson delivers an emotional turn as the harassed but likeable police chief, but it is arguably Rockwell who steals the show with a career best turn as the rascist mummy’s boy Dixon. His character arc is the absolute heart of the film. Despite his heinous and brutal actions, Rockwell’s performance manages to draw sympathy for Dixon.

The film’s dark subject matter and unflinching language may be a turn off for some, but those comfortable enough to stay the course will be richly rewarded.

The film’s contradicting tones are brilliantly balanced by a bold script which never shows its hand.

Three billboards is witty, violent and at times shocking.

A wonderfully moving film, full of believable characters and exceptional performances. Not to be missed.