Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Samir Mehta: “It ruled.”
Three Bridges (outside Ebbing, Missouri) is a fantastic new work from Martin McDonagh. Although it still has his quick-witted, acerbic style, it's tamped down from the days of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths and well-grounded by his mostly US cast and midwestern setting. I don't want to spoil the movie so I'm treading through it carefully -
Three Bridges is a story about loss, crime, revenge, and accountability. And, more than that, it's a story about how when humans can't avenge a crime, they seek vengeance on people guilty of other crimes. Frances McDormand plays the lead, a mother of two who lost her daughter to a violent homicide (that also involved sexual assault). Understandably angry that her small-town police department has failed to find the perpetrator(s) of her daughter's murder, she takes out advertisements on the eponymous three billboards to provoke the police into action. It's a great stunt, but the police chief (Woody Harrelson, fantastic as always) doesn't appreciate it and it does not lead to the results McDormand seeks. From there, the police and McDormand end up in a fracas that estranges them and entangles them.
It's a neat study of human behavior, and it's a lot of fun. As a Missourian, I realized that the setting was a gimmick - McDonagh just wanted a "heartland" standin - and the movie never really sells us on a place. And, as always with McDonagh, you're in for some over-the-top action, violence, and profanity. But it's a very interesting movie and one I recommend.