Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a flawless example of how amazing the genre of dark comedy is by walking the line of "too far" perfectly.
Director: Martin McDonagh
Summary: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder when they fail to catch the culprit.
The thing that makes the genre of dark comedy so difficult is the fact that you need to walk a very precarious line. One step over the edge and the movie suddenly stops being funny. It's one of the reasons the genre isn't used much, and people trying to make a point tend to lean toward satire. Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) has walked this line before, and he's here to do it again with another dark premise and a fantastic cast to back it up. You have to do a lot of things right to find the humor in a mother renting out three billboards to berate the local police for not catching the person who murdered her daughter.
Frances McDormand is on hand as Mildred, the mother in question, and she is fantastic in this role. There aren't many actresses who could pull off a role like this — a mother so destroyed by the death of her daughter that it seems there's no going back. McDormand stares down the police as a woman who is absent of any fear. She doesn't care what happens to her as long as her daughter's killer is brought to justice. The problem is that she's going against Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and his deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell), who are not so keen on being called out in such a public fashion. Dixon is also the worst type of person in the world — he's a racist, lazy officer who has let his small amount of power go to his head completely.
Again, this is a role that no one but Rockwell could pull off — and where they end up going with Dixon by the end should not work, but somehow does. To get into exactly what he does and where the character ends up would be a spoiler, but let's just say you won't be expecting the ending that comes with this character. This is, at its heart, a comedy — and to get into explaining why it's funny would ruin all of the fun. The delivery in dark comedies is the thing that really makes the experience worth it. As far as dark comedies go, this is one of the best to come along in years. There is virtually no flaw in this production, unless this really isn't your genre.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the best movies of the year. The laughs are plentiful, even if you feel a little horrible for finding the subject matter funny. It has the best use of the word "cunt" in a movie in years. It has one hell of an ending that needs to be seen to believed, and it boasts multiple performances worthy of awards season. Do not miss this one, because everyone is going to be talking about this one in a few months when award nominations come out.