Next Wednesday’s film – literate, profane and very clever.

What do you do, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh seems to be asking, when there is nothing to be done? When a mother’s grief, following her daughter’s murder, turns to impotent rage she hits out at those doing little to solve the crime, shaming them on three billboards on the road to Ebbing in Missouri.

In other hands, this might have led to a mighty struggle for justice, but McDonagh swiftly takes us in an altogether more interesting direction. Not only is the sheriff a decent, competent officer, he’s also dying of cancer. Frances McDormand is superb as Mildred, and richly deserved her awards, but so is Woody Harrelson as the man who she accuses of complacency, while Sam Rockwell steals every scene he is in. And they are all indebted to McDonagh’s superb screenplay, a labyrinthine masterpiece of misdirection that is literate, profane and very clever.  

After the wobble of Seven Psychopaths there were whispers that In Bruges might have been a one hit wonder, but Martin McDonagh has quickly put a stop to such talk. Densely plotted, furiously original and overwhelmingly humane, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri this is easily his best film to date.

By David Vass