After seven months have passed without a culprit in her daughter's murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at Bill Willoughby, the town's revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Jason Dixon, an immature mother's boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement is only exacerbated.
ActorsStarring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving, Zeljko Ivanek, Clarke Peters, Amanda Warren, Kerry Condon, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Kathryn Newton, Sandy Martin, Riya May Atwood, Selah Atwood, Malaya Rivera Drew, Christopher Berry, Jerry Winsett, Brendan Sexton III, Alejandro Barrios, Jason Ledford, Gregory Nassif St. John, Allyssa Barley, William J. Harrison, Eleanor Threatt, Michael Aaron Milligan, Nick Searcy
If I had to use just one word to describe this movie, it’d be “sorrowful”. The film is very much a black comedy, but there are segments where it leans a lot more towards “black” than “comedy”. The premise is pretty simple; this woman’s daughter was raped & murdered, the cops didn’t catch whoever did it, and that is destroying her. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that Frances McDormand’s character Mildred does not take shit from people. But at the same time, she feels powerless in so many ways and it’s hard to watch all the struggles happening to this woman and the people around her all stemming from this one horrific act of violence.
The performances here are amazing. Just about every time Mildred opens her mouth, you can feel the anger and resolve of her words in the air. But we also see her moments of grief; she is a very 3D character. One moment you’re laughing at how she’s made some bastard feel like a fool and the next you’re sucker-punched in the gut by seeing her vulnerable. And it all just feels…real. Movie characters can be pretty 2D and simplistic, but everyone knows that real life is a swirl of emotions. Horrible things like this actually happen, all the time, and even fictional stories like this one (built with a grain of truth, mind you) can hurt even while being entertaining once you remember that.
Now, I have seen a couple of other reviews that complain about the portrayal of racism in this film. On one hand, I definitely agree that the racist characters turning over a new leaf and all is forgiven is bullshit. On the other hand, this movie takes place in rural Missouri. It would be weird if there weren’t any racist characters. I say that as someone who lives in Missouri, born and raised. You get more than a couple of miles from the major city limits around here and you start to hear banjos.
This is definitely one of the emotionally strongest films I’ve seen, ever. Everybody goes through some form of pain and loss in their life, but my god, I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a child. Most people can’t, thankfully. But this film comes shockingly close to giving audiences a taste of what those emotions can do to people. And despite all the plot holes…well, it’s still a movie. Suspension of disbelief is a thing, use it and just enjoy the film.