Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Martin McDonagh's latest dark comedy stars Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes a woman fighting for the local police to continue to investigated the horrific death of her only Daughter. She organizes to have three billboards just outside her town to advertise the Police Department's lack of progress in her case. Central to her complaint against the Police is Sheriff Bill Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson. The film also stars Sam Rockwell as a violent and inept police Officer Jason Dixon.

France McDormand plays a desperate mother looking for answers to the death of her teenage daughter. The story opens will a tired looking Mildred simple working her brain to hatch a plan as she looks on empty billboards. She enters the offices of the local advertising agent, played by Caleb Landry Jones. Red reluctantly agrees to the signs which call Sheriff Bill Willoughby to action.

The film tells three stories. A family in grief following the death of their daughter. Her mother's fight to keep her case alive, following months of inaction by the Police Department. A Sheriff who's dying from cancer and is concerned for his family. A racist and inept Police Officer who is more concerned about beating people up than doing his duty.

The tired and depress mother is at odds with her abusive ex-husband and her son. The towns folk are also not happy with the erection of these critical billboards. Frances McDormand plays a independent woman after years of an abusive marriage, which ended in him leaving her for a younger woman. She is a force not to be reckoned with, her strong exterior hides a deep longing for her daughter, while her son suffers embarrassment at his mother actions.

Harrelson plays a alpha male Sheriff with a death sentence. His cancer is terminal as he tries to get Mildred to see sense. He worries about his young family and is hopeful of a break through in the case.

The Sheriff is battling an Officer who's only aim seems to be to avoid work and to beat up on local African-Americans. Rockwell plays a 40 something down and out in a job he loves but where he sees no future. His anger and volatile character is taken out on the towns people.

The stories of the three character are carefully put together by McDonagh, and clearly all three stories surround the death of the young woman. The humour and the darkest of humour in a tragdey is played on constantly.

Mildred's boisterous vocals are juxtaposed with her vulnerability, her strength is cast in the shadow of sorrow of which she cannot escape. The easy life of the Sheriff has all but come to an end, a shadow he cannot run from, his strength to see best in people is often masked by his responsibilities as a husband, father and boss. The failure of the Officer to live up to his own expectations is infuriated with people's animosity towards him.

Fans of McDonagh will flock to this dark and depressing comedy.