“Still no arrests. How come I wonder? ‘Cause there ain’t no God and the whole world’s empty, and it doesn’t matter what we do to each other? I hope not.”
Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell
Synopsis: Seven months on from the rape and murder of Mildred Hayes’ (Frances McDormand) daughter, no suspects have been found and no arrests have been made. It’s time for her to take matters into her own hands, starting by hiring three large red billboards with three bold messages: “RAPED WHILE DYING”, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?”, “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?”.
There’s much joy to be found in watching Frances McDormand’s Mildred busting up the backwater town of Ebbing, Missouri. Fictional though the town may be, its placement in the Midwestern States is purposeful, a place that’s had more than its fair share of racial tension and controversy. Ebbing acts as a melting pot of racism, police discrimination and horrific crime; exactly the kind of place you’d want to see torn down. And Mildred is just the woman to do it. With a real sense of drive, purpose and revenge, she’s portrayed with a magnificent, hard as nails, brutal bluntness by McDormand. She brings much more than just ass-kicking credentials to the role, however, giving Mildred shades and complexities that add vital depth to the character.
And this depth transfers to the antagonists as well. From the embodiment of the ineffectuality of the police force Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) to his despicable loose cannon of a colleague Dixon (Sam Rockwell). Particular credit here going to Rockwell in that he manages to give even his character – the most deplorable of imaginable people – a glimmer of humanity, deep beneath backwards layers of rage and hate. The script, with its Glengarry Glen Ross levels of creative swearing and Coen brothers degrees of quirk, still makes its characters feel human, avoiding caricature and instead opting for heft and intelligence. Something which the all-round excellent cast thrives on. It’s a perfect example of script and performance working hand in hand beautifully.
Rating (out of 5):