In the Dark

Signs and Revelations

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Produced by Blueprint Pictures 
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh 
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Lady Bird
Produced by Scott Rudin Productions 
Written and directed by Greta Gerwig 
Distributed by A24 

Three Billboards is hilarious; yet it could hardly be sadder.  How can it be both at once?  That’s director Martin McDonagh’s signature move.  He’s a practitioner of a Swiftian satire that’s blacker than pitch and thus guaranteed to delight some and horrify others.

Here we have Mildred Hayes, played with granitic force by Frances McDormand giving a new sulfurous glow to the time-worn phrase that hell has no fury like that of a woman scorned.  Mildred’s fury has been hellishly stoked by a husband who has left her for Penelope, a dim-witted 19-year-old.  After witnessing a family scene that includes Mildred’s son holding a butcher knife to this errant father’s neck, the well-meaning Penelope remarks, “Anger begets greater anger.”  Mildred’s friend asks the logical question: Did she say begets?  Of course she didn’t.  She was quoting a bookmark.  McDonagh’s stamp again: silliness and horror unexpectedly jostling each other.

But...

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