HELL hath no fury like a grief-stricken mother scorned in Martin McDonagh’s blackly comic thriller, which pits one vigilante parent against her local police force in a fictional Midwestern town. Impeccably scripted and blessed with a blistering lead performance from Frances McDormand, this explosive morality tale is fuelled by the righteous anger of a spirited woman, who believes her concerns are being ignored by men in power and will not rest until all lines of inquiry have been exhausted in the pursuit of justice.
It has been seven months since Angela Hayes was abducted, raped and murdered on her way home. The dead girl’s stoic mother, Mildred (McDormand), is infuriated by the lack of progress under police chief Bill Willoughby (Harrelson). Consequently, she rents three advertising hoardings from Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones) on the outskirts of town and emblazons each billboard with a message aimed directly at the man responsible for apprehending the culprits. Mildred’s teenage son Robbie (Lucas Hedges) also suffers abuse at school as a result of his mother’s inflammatory actions. However, Mildred refuses to back down.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri creates a vibrant portrait of small town life torn asunder by personal vendettas and retribution. McDormand is magnificent, skilfully letting her character’s frustrations come to a boil, with harrowing consequences. The emotional journey of Rockwell’s racist cop isn’t wholly believable but his fearless portrayal papers over the tiny cracks and there is glorious support from Harrelson.