starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage
written and directed by Martin McDonagh
by Walter Chaw There are three young women in Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (hereafter Three Billboards)--four if you include Abbie Cornish as Woody Harrelson's twenty-years-his-junior wife--and two of them (or three) are absolute fucking idiots and the third was raped while dying and then set on fire with gasoline. As a man who has been told often lately that it's not his place to talk about these things, I'll leave it at that. I didn't think it was funny when the 19-year-old girl (Samantha Weaving) dating the abusive shit-fuck ex-husband (John Hawkes) of our anti-heroine, Mildred (Frances McDormand), is used as an object of derision/tension-breaker, and I didn't think it was funny when secretary Pamela (Kerry Condon) is treated identically before getting punched in the face as her exit from the film. (I'm not mentioning the girl Mildred kicks in the crotch because the trailer spoiled it.) I also have a hard time with a scene where Cornish's Anne berates Mildred for something she knows very well didn't happen (or should know, anyway), which just goes on and on in the McDonagh fashion. Maybe it's that there's this cast of actors here whom I've loved, almost without exception, in everything I've seen them in and now they're suddenly all terrible in exactly the same way. It doesn't take talent to make a bad movie, but it takes a lot of talent to make a movie that's bad like this. Or maybe a lot of arrogance. McDonagh, to his credit, has been doing it since the beginning--a real auteur.