(UK/US - 2017)
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh. Cast: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, Clarke Peters, Zeljko Ivanek, Amanda Warren, Samara Weaving, Sandy Martin, Kerry Condon, Brendan Sexton III, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Kathryn Newton, Malaya Rivera Drew, Jerry Winsett, Nick Searcy. (R, 115 mins)
With its dark humor, small-town cops, generous doses of local color, quotable dialogue, shocking bursts of unexpected violence, and Frances McDormand heading the cast, it's inevitable that THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI will draw comparisons to the Coen Bros.' FARGO. But it quickly makes its case as very much its own film, and it's the best work yet from Martin McDonagh, the British writer/director who gave us the great IN BRUGES and the half-great (loved the first half, didn't care for the second) SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. McDonagh expertly captures the small-town, rural atmosphere and succeeds in making every major character complex and multi-dimensional. Lesser films would've made everything that transpires black and white and one-sided, stacking the deck against the main character to maximize sympathy, but in THREE BILLBOARDS, everything is in shades of gray. Even the most loathsome characters have redeeming qualities, and while the outrageously foul-mouthed insults and seething anger fly fast and furious, THREE BILLBOARDS is, at its core, one of the warmest, honest, and most emotional films to hit theaters in some time.