With Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, it would seem Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges writer-director Martin McDonagh has abruptly matured—even while his taste for the profane thankfully hasn’t. Frances McDormand stars in what looks like her meatiest, most dryly comic role since Fargo. And like in that film, she’s again a crime-concerned, competent force surrounded by a cast of small town cops and buffoons.
As spelled out in the film’s title, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri‘s impetus is a trio of highway-side billboards McDormand’s Mildred Hayes takes out. They call for further the investigation of her daughter’s killing, and they specifically call out Woody Harrelson’s Sheriff Bill Willoughby. The police department—which includes a dimwitted Sam Rockwell in its ranks—and other locals are upset by the signs and push back against Mildred push for justice. Of course, with this being a McDonagh, the escalating conflict is liberally peppered with enough dark laughs, comic ineptitude, and outlandish cussing to keep things surprisingly light for a trailer that includes arson and a murdered child.
Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, and John Hawkes co-star. Fox Searchlight is releasing the film later this year.