Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Directed by Martin McDonagh (R)
An aggrieved mother seeks justice.
Beware Frances McDormand, said A.A. Dowd in AVClub.com. In a big-screen star turn that’s arguably her best since Fargo, the 60-year-old Oscar winner becomes “righteous fury personified,” playing a crusading small-town mother who won’t rest until local police find the man who raped and murdered her daughter several months earlier. When McDormand’s Mildred rents three billboards to send local law enforcement a message, it’s her declaration of war. And as she steamrolls neighbors, a dentist, and even a priest who counsel moderation, she’s such a “wildly, profanely entertaining” character that “you want to follow her into battle.” Woody Harrelson plays the sheriff targeted by Mildred’s campaign, and the good-hearted public servant happens to be dying of cancer, said David Edelstein in NYMag.com. As a racist but sympathetic cop, Sam Rockwell throws in a performance “too complex to graph,” and the energy of each scene is electric until Mildred’s battle turns “broad to the point of silliness.” Even at that point, McDormand “never fails to convince us of the fundamental decency of this woman,” said Dana Stevens in Slate.com. Come awards season, “her fiercely truthful performance is the kind Hollywood ought to honor.”
Matthew Murphy, Merrick Morton/Fox Searchlight Pictures ■