If this doesn't end up high on my list of 'Best Films of 2018' I'll eat my hat - with my socks as dessert! Fully deserving of all the praise it's already garnered, it left me in a state of wondered reassurance that cinema can still be so thought-provoking and solidly entertaining.
A very smart script from director Martin McDonagh ('In Bruges' plus the rather less memorable 'Seven Psychopaths'), and a storyline replete with witty dialogue and unexpected turns (at least one of which is quite a shock), and performances which shine from all three main actors - Frances McDormand (especially), Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell - what more can one ask?
McDormand is a world-weary mother, single-handedly bringing up her upstart teenage son after her husband has got himself shacked up with a teenage girl. What dominates her life now is that her stroppy, late-teenage daughter had been raped and murdered a few months before, and she's become disillusioned and impatient that the local police chief (Woody Harrelson) has not only got nowhere in tracing the criminal(s) but, to her, doesn't seem too bothered about the case, his behaviour and apparent nonchalant attitude mirrored by his obnoxious, lazy deputy (Sam Rockwell).
She decides to stir things up in a forward direction by renting three large, roadside billboards on the approach to the small town, to feature large-lettered messages to the police chief asking why nothing's been done.
There are a number of very violent, though mostly shortish, scenes, some of it graphic.
The film is, by turns, tragic, horrific and bleakly comic, the latter not feeling out of place, especially when McDormand has to deliver some of her well-timed, acidic lines. In fact it is she who carries the whole enterprise on her shoulders and if she achieves the Oscar for this performance I, for one, will not be complaining.
It's yet another of those films which do not tie the ends up neatly at the end, so if you're one of those who prefer cut-and-dried endings, be prepared - though it should in no way prevent you from enjoying all that's gone before as it's all so very good.
Btw: I did notice one or two careless lapses in continuity, though I doubt if most people will spot them. Doesn't matter too much.
A darned good film, then, with a high standard on just about every conceivable front. I take enormous pleasure in recommending it strongly................8.
4 hours ago