In the midst of the MeToo era, Three Billboards is a resounding battle-cry for those seeking justice. In the film, Mildred (Frances McDormand) pays for three old billboards to display a message calling out the local police department to find the man who raped and murdered her daughter seven months ago. It’s a bold message with huge black letters on bright red. And even though the billboards are on an older road that hardly anyone travels down, word about them travels fast.
Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) addresses Mildred head on, after the billboards call him out by name. He visits Mildred and explains that he and his officers have been working on the case and doing all they can, but they just can’t find a DNA match. Mildred won’t be satisfied until the culprit is found. Complicating things for Willoughby is the fact that he has cancer and everyone knows it, but he works hard to not let it affect his work. The two butt heads and can act like fierce adversaries, but are ultimately on the same side.
The billboards make Mildred and her family targets. Men come into Mildred’s work to intimidate her. Kids throw things at her car as she takes her kid to school. But Mildred doesn’t scare easily and doesn’t back down. In fact, when people try to destroy the billboards, she retaliates, fighting fire with fire.
To put it mildly, Mildred is a force to be reckoned with and you do not want to get on her bad side. At first glance, she may not look like much, just a middle aged woman in coveralls, no makeup and her hair in a short messy bun. This is also her look out at the fanciest restaurant in town. But then she opens her delightfully foul mouth and shows us just how she doesn’t give a f-ck and will put anyone in their place. Police officers, the local priest, kids at her son’s school, the tv reporter live, she’ll call them out and leave everyone with their mouths agape in shock. Even alone, with her guard down a bit and talking to her bunny slippers, she’s still got that rough edge that I love. McDormand has the award for best actress in the bag.
The film is also nominated for a total of seven other Academy Awards, including best actress and Best Picture. Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are both nominated in the best supporting actor category for their very different roles in Ebbing’s police force. Three Billboards is also nominated for original score, film editing and original screenplay.
Three Billboards is easily one of the best film I’ve seen all year. The story is captivating and keeps the audience interested until the very end. While none of the characters are purely good or evil, they are all so fleshed out, full of truth and entertaining. By the end of the film, I was truly invested in Mildred, her family, Willoughby, his family and even that screw-up officer accused of torturing black people. Three Billboards is a captivating, smart movie everyone, who can stand a lot of cursing, should see.
“Yup, still no arrests. How come I wonder? ‘Cause there ain’t no God and the whole world’s empty, and it doesn’t matter what we do to each other? I hope not.”