‘Three Billboards’ has same strengths as ‘Fargo’
“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.
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Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson star in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.’