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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Films like “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are an interesting case study to me in that there is a lot of buzz around it as it has been making the rounds on the festival circuit for a bit now. However, given the subject matter of the script that was also directed by “Seven Psychopaths” writer/director Martin McDonagh, I will be interested to see how it is accepted by a mass audience. Submitted for your perusal:

Mildred (Frances McDormand) lives in the small town of Ebbing, Missouri, where she is mourning the brutal death of her daughter. Nine months have passed with no leads, no arrests, and no real questions answered. Her grief in this time has gotten more and more intense, and she decides to take matters in her own hands by bringing more awareness to her community in a grand matter, getting the attention of local sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), his direct report Dixon (Sam Rockwell), and an entire community of people who take sides in a tale of the consequences of the choices we make as well as the consequences of those consequences.

Like I alluded to earlier, this is definitely not for everyone. Listed on IMDB as a “darkly comic drama,” they ain’t lyin’. There is subject matter in “Three Billboards” on multiple levels that could make the sensitive types a bit uneasy. The odd part here is that I cannot really get into all of them without leading you down the primrose path of spoilers, so you just need to kind of roll with me on this one. And to truly convey not only the subject matter but even McDonagh’s script itself, it takes a special kind of cast, and he went out and got the right people here. McDormand (who is always on her “A” game) continues her streak of great performances here bringing what could easily be portrayed as a woman devoid of emotion and almost downright detestable and making her on some levels a sympathetic character. Mildred’s anger fuels her, even in the wrong ways in some cases, but the maternal side of her reminds her that she still needs to be a role model to her surviving child in a son, Robbie (Lucas Hedges). Harrelson continues to wow me here as the lawman that really wants to do the right thing, even in facing adversity in both his professional and personal lives and works well with McDormand and Rockwell by understanding what the dynamics have to be dealing with both characters. And if you know me, you know what a fan or Rockwell’s I am, and he also does not disappoint as the cop that knows that this is really his only course of career after growing up in the same small town he wants to protect if it wasn’t for the fact that he just cannot seem to get out of his own way. Peter Dinklage also has a great turn here in less of a role, but his character of James becomes very important as the third act progresses, and it all comes together in a well-crafted story that takes some turns that even caught me off-guard in a way that was a bit shocking without being “shock value” and adds more layers to the story in the way that McDonagh has shown with his past work in films like “In Bruges” and “Six Shooter”.

I truly enjoyed “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” more than I expected to, even after being told by multiple colleagues and friends how much they enjoyed it. I would not be surprised if there is at least a small buzz for members of this cast when hardware starts becoming a factor in our consciousness here in a couple of months, and with the end-of-year push hitting full throttle ahead of us for the next one hundred and forty-four days, this film may be able to find its niche amongst them.

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