Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
“We hold the moon in our bellies and fire in our hearts. We bleed. We give milk. We are the mothers of first words. These words grow. They are our children. They are our stores and poems.” Terry Tempest Williams, An Unspoken Hunger
There are untold injustices in our world, and murder is among them. The pain of being enslaved to anger, the torture of being held captive by the bloody god of revenge, is likewise a form of injustice. The anger, too, can kill. Some kind of transformation is needed: some kind of transmutation of anger into dedicated action. If there is a healing and holy spirit at work in the world, more powerful than the suffering even if not all-powerful, the spirit is in the transmutation. It is an act of co-lamentation and co-creativity: human and divine. It begins with putting up billboards.
Excerpts from the Review
Mildred is angry because she is still in a deep and unsettling state of grief after the murder of her teenage daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton) nine months ago. She has taken $5000 and rented three billboards near her house so she can vent her spleen on the police for not solving this terrible crime. The billboard messages are “RAPED WHILE DYING,” “AND STILL NO ARRESTS.” “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?”
Writer and director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) has created a richly spiritual drama that sheds more light on the present American scene than any other film this year. Among the themes touched upon are the unflagging quest for justice, the search for truth, the intensity of grief, the morally reprehensible nature of revenge, the virus of racism, and the suffering and pain of rape and suicide which trickles into the lives of others.
The greatest heroism according to the Abrahamic faiths is “to transform an enemy into a friend, to move from hatred to caring. From suspicion and fear, beyond tolerance, to embrace of the other,” writes Rabbi Amy Eilberg. We watch the ways in which Mildred and Dixon, two angry people, circle around each other shedding sparks as they clash. McDonagh, a gifted playwright, draws out a sensational performance from Frances McDormand whose unrelenting fierceness signals the zeal of her crusade to find her daughter’s killer.