THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI — Review by Susan Granger

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Since the Ebbing Police Department has been unable to find the killer, Mildred rents three abandoned billboards on a back road to advertise their ineptitude and complacency, focusing on Sheriff William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), who has been privately agonizing about not having solved the crime and is dying of pancreatic cancer. Continue reading…

Launching this outrageously merciless, one-woman crusade, Frances McDormand (“Fargo,” “Olive Kitteridge”) delivers a formidable, ferociously uncompromising performance that firmly places her on-track for another Academy Award. She’s adroitly supported by Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, as his moronic, rage-filled deputy.

Plus there’s Caleb Landry Jones as the local ad-sales agent, Peter Dinklage as the kindly car salesman who courts Mildred, Lucas Hedges as her long-suffering teenage son and John Hawkes as her abusive ex-husband.

Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonaugh (“The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” “The Pillowman,” “In Bruges”) specializes in agonizing emotional pain, juggling comedy and tragedy, touching on racism and misogyny, peppered with irrational, uncontrolled violence and coarse, cruel pranks.

After winning the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, McDonaugh noted the fortunate timing: “It’s great to be putting out a film with such a strong woman lead character. Even just two months before anyone had seen it, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be taken…We worried that the darkness in the story might not allow people to laugh.”

Kudos also to British cinematographer Ben Davis, production designer Inbal Weinberg and composer Carter Burwell’s distinctive musical score.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is an edgy, unpredictable 8, a morbidly funny film.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.