Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2018-02-23 08:12

What it's about:

After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter's murder case, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town's revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother's boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement is only exacerbated.

What we thought:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a masterclass in acting from Frances McDormand, with incredible support from Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. The three actors – much like the three billboards – work together to tell the heart-breaking story and need each other to give the interconnected incredible performances they do. 

Frances plays a character – named Mildred – who is like Dirty Harry meets Lisbeth Salander. We meet her seven months after the violent death of her daughter and she is no longer grieving but instead on a war path to find the perpetrators. She is beyond driven and definitely needs the counterweight of Woody Harrelson’s character, Chief Willoughby, who heads-up the police force in the small town in which the film is set.

Chief Willoughby is the kind of guy that has been through a lot and seen even more, so he doesn’t blink twice when Mildred pulls out all the stops to try and expedite the solving of her daughter’s case by any means necessary. 

The most controversial part of this trio is Sam Rockwell’s Dixon, who is a racist police officer that works with Chief Willoughby. This bigoted character is not a good person and I strongly disliked him, but I could really tell he was written for Sam because the actor knew how to show the character development in the best way possible. There’s lots of light and dark and the movie is richer for it.

Like you know that he’s a horrible police officer and an even worse person but somehow at the end of the movie you end up rooting for him to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

Director and writer Martin McDonagh really gave Frances and the crew roles in which they could shine. Each actor played to their strengths and their tensions on screen spoke volumes about what the rape and murder of the young girl did to a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere. I also really appreciated this female-led flick from McDonagh who has made several male-led movies before like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.

However, is this movie still chocked-full of problematic and toxic masculinity? Yes, totally. Do I wish there were more women and people of colour in it? Yup. 

To be honest with you, I can see why this film has won awards. Frances McDormand is exemplary, and the direction is noteworthy but, is it better than everything else this awards season? Nope. Don’t get me wrong, it’s solid but not a standout. You should go see it if you liked Fargo (the series or the movie) or if you love Frances, because she’s the best thing about it. 


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