Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
It's already been a decade since Martin McDonagh established himself as one of the most talented crime writers in the movie business with the brilliant In Bruges. After crossing the Atlantic to make Seven Psychopaths in 2012, he now turns his attention to American small-town life for a scrutiny of vindictiveness and small-town idiocy, all bathed in McDonagh's recognizable black comedy. Frances McDormand plays a bereaved mother who, frustrated by the lack of progress in the investigation of her daughter's rape and murder, puts up three roadside billboards outside of town in order to voice her dissatisfaction. This is the starting point for the erratic and at times ill-focused but never boring story McDonagh has concocted here, filled with all sorts of characters bumping into each other in every thinkable way – and almost always with animosity as a result. McDonagh wants his film to work on both a dramatic and a comedic level, constantly spiced up by his social criticism of uneducated small-town America, and he almost gets that balance right. At its best, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is refreshingly sharp and creative. At its worst it feels like something Quentin Tarantino could have made during the peak of his revenge-fantasy phase. Sam Rockwell gives the best of many hilarious performances, most of which ridicule some very base human characteristics that we all can find ourselves in touch with from time to time.