It may only be his third feature length film as director, but Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is already causing a stir for filmmaker Martin McDonagh. Having helmed 2008’s critically acclaimed In Bruges, followed by 2012’s Seven Psychopaths, this latest project has already attracted the likes of Woody Harrelson, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell to its cast, and now adds Abbie Cornish and Caleb Landry Jones.
Written by McDonagh, too, the film follows Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), who is grieving for her murdered daughter. Frustrated at what she perceives to be a distinct lack of interest on the part of the local police, she hires three billboards and uses them to manipulate the local law enforcement into action. At the top of her list of police failures is Sheriff Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), while his subordinate – Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell) – has developed a theory about the crime. Dixon and Hayes begin to work together in order to distribute the justice they feel has been lacking.
Abbie Cornish (Seven Psychopaths, Robocop) has now been cast as the wife of Sheriff Willoughby, and Caleb Landry Jones will play the owner of the billboards, who meets violence at the hands of Officer Dixon. Cornish has collaborated with McDonagh before, while Landry Jones has been busily featuring in the upcoming revival of Twin Peaks for David Lynch.
The work of Martin McDonagh has always proven itself to be filled with razor-sharp wit, without skimping on the drama. As such, this premise, with this casting makes for a fascinating project. While it sounds as though Mildred Hayes is at the centre of the action, she is trying to make things happen in an all-male environment, which is difficult for a woman at the best of times. Add to that the unknown, but inevitable cause of the Sheriff’s reticence, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is definitely one to watch for.