Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri Review

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri is Built on it Incredible Characters

I’ve always found director Martin McDonagh’s work to be quite interesting. His films are filled with incredibly interesting people caught up in situations that they quickly get out of control. This trend continues in his latest movie, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, which stars Frances McDormand as a woman with the biggest cojones I’ve seen in a long time. Her character is an absolute force of nature and just delightful to watch on her rampage. However, the film also suffers from another issue I’ve noticed in McDonagh’s films. For some reason, he never delivers a satisfying ending.

To say that Three Billboards is a dark movie would be an understatement. The entire film is based around Mildred (McDormand), a grieving mother who has reached her limits with the lack of progress made by police to find her daughters killers. So, she takes out the titular billboards and posts a series of messages questioning the police chiefs effectiveness in the investigation. The small town doesn’t take too kindly too it and soon conflict arises for Mildred. Something that is more unfortunate for those who dare stand in her way.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
The McDormand surveys her domain.

Not only is the film filled with interesting characters, but McDonagh really hit the motherload with his cast. On the other side of the law is Woody Harrelson, who plays the sheriff honestly trying his best on a case with no leads. However, that won’t earn him any mercy from Mildred and others are quick to defend him from her, especially Sam Rockwell who plays a deputy who personifies everything wrong with modern law enforcement. While these might make up the primary characters of the film, there are plenty of recognizable actors sprinkled throughout the movie, including Peter Dinklage and Caleb Landry Jones. Which leaves me wondering which of the three might get singled out during awards season later this year, because they certainly all deserve it.

This is a movie that is really built on the performances of the actors in it. Sure they are rich characters and they get some great dialogue, but it’s the performances from an all-star cast that is the real reason to see Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri. As I said before, McDormand is a force of nature and she has such a keen sense of humor that it really shines through her characters gruff exterior. Harrelson does what he does best as a Sheriff you probably shouldn’t really like but have incredible empathy for.  

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
When an unstoppable force meets an unmovable Harrelson.

Despite how dark it is, and how unsettling Sam Rockwell is throughout the film, there are plenty of well deserved feel-good moments throughout it. All the characters get their chance to grow and change over the course of the movie, and none more than Rockwell. However, these characters all feel like they have so much more to say once the credits start rolling. As much as I enjoyed Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, I can’t get past the ending of the movie. It’s as though a final chapter were missing from the story. Sure, you know what’s probably coming by that point, but you can’t get past the idea that something is missing.

Deep down, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri is an angry movie. All of the characters in it seem to have some reason to be angry at the world. In fact, it’s this anger that binds most of these characters to each other. In fact, I would say that the vast majority of the film is filled with angry people, and as they say “anger begets more anger.” However, it’s when this cycle starts to break part way through the movie that the characters are able to start growing. In fact, all of the characters at some point are unforgivable because of their anger issues, and yet it’s easy to care about them and want everything to work out for them.  

Like I said, Rockwell starts off as the personification of everything wrong with law enforcement.

Long story short, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri is a movie well worth seeing. It’s a film built around the characters within it and has the cast to make them a solid foundation. Despite its lackluster ending, everything up to that point is enthralling. It gets its hooks into you and refuses to let you go. There is little doubt that Harrelson, Rockwell, and McDormand will all receive well-earned praise this awards season and for me it’s rare to find a film where all three of its leads are so deserving of it. It’s definitely a dark movie though, but it’s comedic elements make it one that doesn’t weigh heavy on your heart.