(5 / 5)
When people are treated badly it builds up resentment and anger and usually leads to them talking that out on other people. When they get treated with kindness they usually are themselves kinder people and interact more positively with others. It is difficult to break the cycle of cruelty and it’s not always the case of being kind to a person will make them kind also.
Our story stars with Three Billboards that are dilapidated because so few drive down the road because of the new highway. This goes noticed by Mildred (Francis McDormand). She goes to the office that owns the billboards and hires them out for a year (after clarifying that neither anything inflammatory or swear words can be on them) she gives a paper of what to put on them. While driving past, local police officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) sees the first one that says “How come, Sheriff Willoughby?” the second reads “And still no arrests?” the third one “Raped while dying.”
Francis McDormand has more than a few great roles under her belt (Marge Gunderson in Fargo is probably the greatest example) and this is another. Mildred Hayes is completely steadfast in her belief in putting those billboards up. Others come to to persuade or intimidate and she is indentured. Along with that she is written with plenty of wit and gets to show beautiful vulnerability which makes her a completely fully realized character.
Writer and director Martin McDonagh has always made funny movies that are built on heavy emotional themes. I would classify both of his two previous movie as comedies. Here, instead of the comedy being more forefront, it is used to pepper some of the scenes. A scene either opens on a joke, is inserted in the middle or ends on it. This is a dark comedy (emphasis on the dark) but because of the very serious subject matter I doubt that people will be talking much about the laughs they had (they are here though).
McDonagh has been criticized for his portrayal of women in his previous work (which he made into a bit of a recurring gag in Seven Psychopaths), they were mostly gorgeous and either got beaten and/or killed (not very progressive). Here is a woman who’s story it is, who is the one that kicks off the story and holds true throughout it. This is indeed an amendment on his previous work.
The writing on the boards and revealing the details of why is merely our set-up. From there we get even deeper into the characters and the plot takes at least two brave turns. We have fun and moving moments with Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Dixon which are a mix of funny and poignant.
Through the movie we get well composed portrayals of people living their lives and how if you deal with people nicely they will probably repay that with kindness, if not then they’ll be bad to you or most certainly to someone else and then we’ll all be alone.