Film review: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (Director: Martin McDonagh)
By Sascha Krieger
Three decaying billboards on a road no-one travels on anymore. In Martin McDonagh’s film, the celebrated Irish playwright’s third, they’re all it takes to trigger a series of events evolving into an Old-Testamentarian fireball of guilt, violence, fate, revenge and redemption. With one exception: there is no hand of God in all of this. Mildred Hayes, played by Frances McDormand as a modern-day mixture of Job and Moses with a dose of Cain thrown in and just a hint of Jesus, a stubborn, dry-witted, relentless woman, holding up staunchly her facade above a bottomless sea of sorrow, has lost her daughter to an unspeakable crime. Months later the investigation has stalled, so she rents those billboards and uses them to ask the local police chief (gentle and imposing all in one, loving husband, reasonable authority, quirky clown: Woody Harrelson) what’s going on. A spark that lights a fire. Factions form, the police overreaches, dentist drills turn into weapons, people get injured or even die, Molotov cocktails fly. It doesn’t take more than a few large letters to strip away the illusion of civilisation, of a peaceful town where people face each other with decency.