Frances McDormand gives a powerhouse performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, an uproarious delight of a film that snaps the eyelids up like roller-blinds and had the Venice film festival audience breaking into rounds of spontaneous applause. She plays Mildred Hayes, an angel of vengeance at loggerheads with the world. Lock the door and bolt the windows. Mildred comes rampaging up Main Street like hard-boiled Spencer Tracy in Bad Day at Black Rock.
Playwright Martin McDonagh won plaudits for his bustling 2008 feature debut, In Bruges – but Three Billboards is on a whole other level. The director tosses it into competition, underarm, like a firecracker, where it promptly explodes in a flash of jokes, a splash of blood and a twisting plume of ornate dialogue. It remains to be seen how this one will bed down; how deep an impression it leaves once the smell of cordite has faded. But in the moment, good heavens, this feels like Bonfire night and the Fourth of July.
Those familiar with McDonagh’s work will be unsurprised to learn that Three Billboards is a bold and showboating affair, robustly drawn and richly written; a violent carnival of small-town American life. Yet it has a big, beating heart, even a rough-edged compassion for its brawling inhabitants.
Xan Brooks, The Guardian