“Mildred” (Frances McDormand) is angry. Very angry. Other than seeming to only ever wear a blue boiler suit, she has plenty to be aggrieved about.
Living in a small town in Missouri USA, following the rape and murder of her young daughter, she demands justice be served by the local police force.
Chief of Police “Willoughby” (Woody Harrelson) is a decent man albeit with his own secrets, he has no leads and the investigation has gone nowhere. A deputy on the same force “Dixon” (Sam Rockwell), is everything Willoughby is not. Not the sharpest tool in the box and if you can add a “ism or ia” to any prejudice, be it racism or homophobia Dixon is on board.
Mildred is not a likeable character, retaining questionable views herself, she is a smoldering furnace of resentment. Husband left her for a nineteen year old bimbo, check. Daughter raped and murdered, check. A fractured relationship with her son “Robbie” (Lucas Hedges), check. Crappy job, check.
Deciding some affirmative action is required, Mildred hires three local giant billboards from “Rex Welby” (Caleb Landry Jones). Placing provocative statements about the local police force on each, they cost money she cannot afford, but that’s not the point. They sure as hell get some attention.
McDormand won a Best Actress Oscar for this movie and it is easy to see why. This is a complex character, decidedly unlikeable and yet McDormand somehow makes it work, despite the actions the character takes.
Harrelson continues to show his range across a diverse genre of movies and TV work, with more thoughtful work here. Who would have thought “Woody” from “Cheers” would go so far. Arguably the best work and most meaty role alongside McDormand, is Sam Rockwell. Here playing a character starting from a primordial soup level of intelligence encouraged by his even worse mother. And yet, as character arcs go, he manages to take the audience with him and make the journey seem entirely plausible.
Peter Dinklage also gets a few pivotal scenes as an unlikely potential love interest, again working against type in what our expectations might be. There may be plenty of redemption to go round, but who gets it, who doesn’t and why, is what the story is all about.
The film has plenty of fruity swearing and occasional violence but nothing too shocking, albeit you might be expecting an eruption at any moment, from writer and director Martin McDonagh of “In Bruges ” fame. The story takes unexpected turns and just when you think it’s all going to turn to custard, something else entirely happens.
A thoughtful film that really does toy with audiences expectations. All the characters ending up somewhere very different from where we first meet them on screen.
An excellent very adult film with three stand out performances, a great story and a significant yet believable journey for audiences to follow.
Outstanding adult cinema, go watch it
**Red Band Trailer (Swearing – NSFW)**