I normally don’t go out of my way to see most arthouse / independent movies since they tend to be Oscar bait. I would rather go to see a movie to enjoy it rather than having to dissect it in order to enjoy it. Every so often something gets enough attention or positive attention that I will make sure to see it before they are gone. It might not be the best thing for someone that reviews movies to say … but I am just being honest. With that said, one of our friends strongly recommended Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri; so we decided to give it a chance.
I would give it 7 “spiteful billboards” out of 10.
FOR THE UNINITIATED
7 months after no results from the police on her daughter’s rape / murder, a mother puts up 3 billboards publicizing that fact. It happens to coincide with news that the sheriff coming out that he has terminal cancer. Since this is a small town and relies on a good ole boy system, it causes a lot of strife.
Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Written by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Caleb Landry Jones, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, and several more
The chemistry between the characters is the best part by far. The alluded backstory and dialogue created a darkly comedic chess game between Mildred and most of the city. Mildred is a smart ass that seems to be one step ahead of everyone. Chief Willoughby is the foul mouthed center of the city that everyone generally falls behind. He wants to bring out the best in everyone around him. Dixon is the simple-minded (?) deputy / momma’s boy that acts before he can think, which requires his superiors to reign him in. The supporting characters (Red, James, Charlie, and Penelope) added more flavor.
At some point I heard this was based on a true story, which could have been the case until after the halfway point. By then the coincidences were too many, actions didn’t carry consequence, and the situations become more non-sensical. It affected the general tone of the movie, making it seem like Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri didn’t know whether to be a comedy or drama. That isn’t to say a movie cannot be both, but the back and forth was detrimental to the finished product.
While this is a fantastic movie that runs the gamut of emotions, there isn’t any lasting resonance. After walking out of the movie, I felt if they leaned towards drama or comedy instead of both it would have been more impactful. That isn’t to say this movie is one to skip since there are so many great aspects. It is worth checking out when it gets to Redbox or a streaming service.
The best mixture of the comedy and drama genre I could think of is Forrest Gump, plus it has the added benefit of being realistic but too coincidental. It might be the most iconic role for Tom Hanks and it won a few Oscars as well. Forrest Gump holds a special place in my heart as one of the most quotable and rewatchable movies.