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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What I loved most about Martin McDonagh's dark, brilliant film THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI was that he lets you think you understand his characters for the first hour.

Mildred (Frances McDormand) is a bitter, angry woman, brought to her knees by the brutal murder of her daughter. The only emotion she feels is anger, and it burns hot.

Mildred is fed up with what she perceives as incompetence by the local police, so she erects three billboards outside of town that call them out on their lack of progress on the case.

Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) is, on first impression, a backward, profane cop who always has his men's backs.

Deputy Dixon ( a brilliant Sam Rockwell) is a stupid, racist, violent man with a hair trigger and little regard for the law, or solving Mildred's case.

The young man that runs the local advertising agency, Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones) is a lazy millennial in over his head, more interested in a young woman in his office than his P&L.

Peter Dinklage plays James, a local real estate man dealing with backward comments on being the "town dwarf". He seems to have a hell of a crush on Mildred.

Lucas Hedges is Mildred's son, destroyed by the loss of his sister but coping against all odds.

John Hawkes (Winter's Bone) is Mildred's ex Charlie. He's an ex cop too and doesn't like her public disrespect for the local police force.


I've rarely seen a story with major character arcs for every major player.

As the true nature of these people emerge, there are many laughs, some horrifying moments of explosive Tarantino-like violence, and plenty of Coen Brothers-like small town eccentricity, but told in an Irish/Southern USA mashup of cultural perspective all McDonagh's own.

The cast is incredible. McDormand blows the roof off as Mildred. Her verbal take down of a pious priest that wants her to take down the billboards is a foul-mouthed masterpiece of double barrel assault that left me laughing hard and bracing for more.

Harrelson is fantastic yet again as a Chief facing his own demons and carrying Mildred's quest for justice at his core as his own issues loom heavily just above.

Rockwell may outshine them all as Dixon. Playing against the parts he typically does so well (The Way, Way Back, The Green Mile) Rockwell paints a detestable, backwater jerk whose racial fire is constantly stoked by his equally white trash mother, played perfectly by Sandy Martin (Napoleon Dynamite) as a cold-hearted beast of a woman only nourished by hate.

Where all these characters go in the last half of the film, in the hands of this incredible cast, armed with the screenplay of the year by McDonagh, is amazing to watch.

Profane, hilarious and dark as hell, THREE BILLBOARDS is one of the best films of the year and gets an A+.

I'll be shocked if McDormand doesn't win Best Actress as Mildred. In a career littered with great performances, it's a new personal best.

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