TIFF 2017: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Review

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here. Check out my Instagram page for pictures of the North American premiere.

Synopsis: After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, commissioning three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon, an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated. (Fox Searchlight)

Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson

Writer: Martin McDonagh

Director: Martin McDonagh

Rating: n/a (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 115mins

Trailer:

The themes of grief and closure have been covered in plenty of films but not quite like the way it was done here. The story here is about a frustrated mother named Mildred Hayes (McDormand) who is still looking for answers from the police after the brutal rape and murder of her daughter. In order to get their attention, she does exactly what the title suggests by placing three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri, where the film takes place. This unconventional tactic created controversy with those loyal to the police department and their chief William Willoughby (Harrelson). They claimed that there was little that could be done at that point in their investigation but this simply wasn’t good enough for Mildred.

Mildred was a feisty woman who didn’t take any guff from anybody, using some salty language to get her point across, but also showed great emotion when it came to her daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton). McDormand showed incredible range in creating a very sympathetic character worth caring about. Sam Rockwell provided an equally powerful performance as a reformed police officer with a tough upbringing. Harrelson was also charming as the police chief in the middle of everything.

Overall, this was an amazingly well-written, gripping drama, balancing drama and dark comedy with ease. It will make you laugh, make you cry, and keep you on the edge of your seat.

Score: 10/10

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