In this third feature film from Martin McDonaugh (In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths coming before), Three Billboards works at being emotional and with black comedy. The legend Frances McDormand plays Mildred, frustrated with a lack of clear investigative progress some time after her daughter’s murder, who takes matters into her own hands by setting up three billboards.
Funnily, she’s married to one of the famed Coen Brothers, Joel. This bit of trivia’s relevant as although not a Coen Brothers film, it almost feels like one. A careful balance of drama and black comedy’s especially key, to a point Mildred risks being unlikeable a lot of the film, but we’re on her side enough. Woody Harrelson’s as Sheriff Bill Willoughby part of that, while in having cancer and a classic Harrelson dignity, does wonders. Meanwhile, Sam Rockwell, as a sidekick, Officer Jason Dixon, has a spookily relevant cultural prejudice, but builds different sides as events move along.
So in all, Three Billboards keeps a surprisingly successful irreverent tone throughout, and already deserves being crowned one of 2018’s best films.