‘Three Bill­boards’ has same strengths as ‘Fargo’

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By RICK BENT­LEY Tribune News Ser­vice

“Three Bill­boards Out­side Eb­bing, Mis­souri” is the 21st cen­tury an­swer to “Fargo.”

“Bill­boards” di­rec­tor/writer Martin McDon­agh uses the same kind of cin­e­matic for­mula as the Coen broth­ers did in their Os­car­win­ning film of com­bin­ing a com­pelling story with boldly stereo­typ­i­cal char­ac­ters and sea­son­ing it all with dra­matic heat and dark com­edy to make his movie. The only slight dif­fer­ence is Frances McDor­mand won an Os­car for her work in “Fargo,” and at this point her per­for­mance in “Three Bill­boards Out­side Eb­bing, Mis­souri” is only Os­car-wor­thy.

McDon­agh’s film fo­cuses on the ef­forts by a griev­ing mother, Mil­dred Hayes (McDor­mand), to get the lo­cal po­lice to work harder on solv­ing the grue­some death of her daugh­ter. Af­ter months of no move­ment, Mil­dred de­cides to rent three run­down bill­boards that she can see from her front yard. The mes­sage she has plas­tered on the signs is a ques­tion to the lo­cal chief of po­lice, Wil­liam Willoughby (Woody Har­rel­son), of why there has been no progress made in the case.

In­stead of im­me­di­ately be­ing sparked to re­turn to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the pub­lic chastis­ing of the po­lice up­sets Willoughby. His sec­ond-in-com­mand, Of­fi­cer Dixon (Sam Rock­well), is sent into a rage by the bill­boards and re­peat­edly gives into his darker side as a way of get­ting the signs re­moved. None of this shakes Hayes be­cause she’s been through one of the great­est or­deals a per­son can face with the mur­der of her daugh­ter.

See BOARDS Page C2

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF FOX SEARCH­LIGHT PIC­TURES

Frances McDor­mand and Woody Har­rel­son star in ‘Three Bill­boards Out­side Eb­bing, Mis­souri.’

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