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Movie Review - Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri

March 5, 2019

From our resident film reviewer, Darren

When frustration turns to action and even retribution is on the cards, all sorts of consequences can endure. When Mildred’s (Frances McDormand) daughter is raped and murdered, she starts to blame the local authorities for not finding the culprit involved in her daughter’s violation and death. Mildred hires out three derelict billboards on the side of a main road leading into her town of Ebbing, with the initial intention of shaming the local Chief of Police, Willoughby. This strong and feisty woman, with a heart that is leaden with sorrow, will soon set in motion a tumultuous chain of events, by conducting her own investigation into her daughter’s death.  In a brazen, unorthodox and arbitrary manner, Mildred will do whatever she can to find any answers she can.

Woody Harrelson is Willoughby, a man who is struggling with his own demons, yet at the core of his character is the heart and moral anchor of the film. While Willoughby attempts to assuage the actions of those around him who are going off the deep end, reasoning and ethical groundings will get buried and any notion of what is perceived as appropriate and just behaviour will go by the wayside.

Into this complexed scenario, Deputy Dixon (played by Sam Rockwell) Willoughby’s hot-headed and juvenile second in command, will also attempt to take matters into his own hands regarding Mildred’s condemnation of the local police force and for his own loyalty to Willoughby, whom he looks up to as a role model and perhaps even father figure. Dixon is also controlled by a manipulating and narcissist mother with whom he lives.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, is a critically acclaimed film from last year’s Oscar® race nabbing 2 Academy Awards® for Best Actress for Frances McDormand, her second Oscar and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell. On the surface, the film’s plot ostensibly appears to be an austere morality tale and depressing drama. However, the film’s presentation takes a slightly different route, underscoring the strong themes with a wicked sense of black humour, that might appear incongruous and out of sync with its serious themes, but this also allows the viewer an opportunity to be entertained by the proceedings in the process.

This is English writer\director Martin McDonagh’s third feature film. His previous films being In Bruges – 08’ and Seven Psychopaths – 12’. Both these films have been attributed cult followings, due to his offbeat style, twisted and dark sense of humour and most of his characters tend to be sociopathic, violent, troubled and flawed, but also very human at the same time. Here, with Three Billboards, he has presented a film that is thematically more intimate and one that is also visually strong. He has even allowed the 3 billboards to take on a character and life of their own and he understands his medium well. Three Billboards is a sly, wry and clever film, with character arcs and plot turns that as in the best of films, you can’t quite always predict what is around the corner.

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