Mildred Hayes, a hard-nosed mother is seeking justice for her murdered daughter. With no arrests after seven months, Mildred puts up three roadside signs to goad Ebbing police chief into action. But the law - and especially Sam Rockwell's hot-headed deputy - don't take kindly to the provocation. And the townsfolk are on their side. But Mildred doesn't care about ruffling a few feathers. In fact, she's happy to pluck the whole bird.
We’ve all experienced injustice; some of it major, some of it relatively unimportant. When your rage and disappointment following such injustice motivates you to put up three giant billboards expressing your very honest thoughts, you know the injustice falls into the “major rage” category.
For Mildred Hayes, masterfully portrayed by Frances McDormand, this was the case. After her daughter is brutally murdered and the local police force still fails to point out a killer after months of “investigations”, she decides to call them out on it. Three billboards later, the whole of Missouri knows of chief Willoughby’s alleged neglect to the case, and the story gets rolling.
Now I am personally not one for stories about rape and murder, especially not when the film is wrapped in cursing and semi-graphic blood-filled scenes (I suffer enough when I accidentally watch CSI), but this movie is the exception to the rule. Yes, it is a story about a mother dealing with the unsolved murder of her daughter, and yes, there is a dentist tool drilling through a finger at some point, but it was okay! The movie wasn’t terribly depressing, it actually made me laugh more than most comedy movies you find on Netflix nowadays, and I didn’t really care about that bloody hole being drilled because I was rooting for the one doing the drilling. In fact, I was rooting for almost all major characters, even the seemingly empty-headed second-in-command mama’s boy who seemed to love everything a normal person wouldn’t, like throwing someone out a high window – even that guy.
When at the end of a movie your view on the characters has completely turned around and you care about them so much more than you did at the beginning, you know somebody was seriously inspired while developing those characters.
In Three Billboards, you start doing what you do in every movie: you identify the good guys, and you shout passionately at the bad guys. But, somewhere along the way, this black-and-white view gets blurred. Is the main character doing something that normally only a bad guy would do? Is the villain actually showing their human side and allowing you to empathize with them? Where you wrong in your judgements all along, and has this fictional world suddenly been turned upside down?! That’s the kind of feeling you get with this movie. The characters are real, raw, complex, some slightly confused, and not clearly either villains or fairy-godmothers – they’re human. It’s called character development, and I think more contemporary film directors should look into it…
These masterfully-crafted characters will take you on a rollercoaster ride through clever jokes, moving monologues, awkward dates, almost uncomfortably real wake-up calls, and a cry for justice after an unjustified crime. You’ll be crying and then laughing the next second, so make sure to keep your handkerchief at the ready even when you don’t think you’ll need in anymore – you will.
Three Billboards tells a story of real people, the good and the bad, the nice and the ugly, all woven together into the beautiful mess that we call life. I highly recommend you watch it.
Trailer courtesy of Fox Searchlight - YouTube (WARNING - Contains Bad Language Adult Themes)