Set in Ebbing, Missouri in the Midwest, 'Three Billboards' tells the story of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) whose daughter was raped and murdered.
Seven months later she is still waiting for justice. In a bold move, Hayes buys three billboards right outside the town asking the local police department why they have done nothing. Specifically, police chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).
If you are expecting to watch a film with a neat three-act story then 'Three Billboards' is not for you. It takes a very realistic approach to the depiction of the characters within the small town and their motivations. They look and feel just like what you think people from a small town in middle America would. And the world that is created feels lived in.
The acting is also superb. McDormand, specifically, gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a mother who needs closure but is being denied that privilege. The way she portrays her character is an accurate representation of how a determined mother would react, and it is spectacular.
Another stand-out is Sam Rockwell who plays Dixon. He has the most character growth and shifts from being an annoying racist jerk to a semi-redeemable sidekick.
Director Martin McDonagh gives a gripping look at the town and the way he shot the film echoes the frustration of the leads and the starkness of the rape apologist views of the people of Ebbing in general.
Where the film falls short is on the emotional front. Maybe it’s the fact that TV has spoiled us with shows such as This Is Us and Grey’s Anatomy regularly bringing us to tears. 'Three Billboards'never quite hits the emotional nerve it’s aiming for. And for all the hype this film has been receiving, I expected it to be an emotional mess.
Three Billboards is well directed, well acted and speaks to the very prominent social issue of sexual harassment. It, however, just misses that moment which makes you go “yes, this is an Oscar-worthy performance”.