Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is what Mildred (Frances McDormand) hires out when she spots them, early on, and wants to put something out there relating to the death of her daughter, but she asks the owner of the boards, “What are the laws on what you can and cannot say? I presume you can’t say nothing defamatory, and you can’t say…” (before she reels off a list of big swears)
But once up – and as observed by police officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), we see them in reverse order, and they read:
- “How come, Chief Willoughby?”
- “How come no arrests?”
…and then she directs him to check out the first one… which strikes at the heart of the issue she wants to address.
You can understand her clear frustration, but Woody is doing the best he can, based on what he can do legally. This does lead to a couple of brief, meaty chats between the pair, but I was expecting far more of that, which we didn’t get. Instead, she takes on the mostly racist police, as well as anyone else who’s against the way she’s gone about things, as she doesn’t care who she offends because of her tragedy.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a really bizarre film in places, and rather disjointed at times, but always engaging. Occasionally, things take a turn which you’re not expecting, although the trailer showed the scene where she imagines she can see a CGI fawn which shows up, presuming it’s her daughter reincarnated. This made that moment feel like it would become a focus of the entire movie…. but that was the animal’s ONE scene.
However, Sam Rockwell, finally, redeems himself after 2015’s godawful Poltergeist remake, and The Wire‘s Clarke Peters also pops up in a police-bound role which will become clear as you watch the film. Peter Dinklage is also present, but his role only seems to be for certain individuals to take a pop at his diminutive stature, whilst filling time inbetween seasons of Game Of Thrones.
As for the film, it feels a bit less than the sum of its parts, and when it comes to Miss McDormand, she’s fine, but I’ve never quite *got* her as an actress, so I don’t understand the big fuss about her. At times in her films, it’s like she sleep-acts, i.e. she’s there, but she’s not really feeling it.
Plus – and without giving spoilers – writer/director Martin McDonagh just couldn’t find an ending for it that made realistic sense.
Running time: 115 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Producers: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin and Martin McDonagh
Screenplay: Martin McDonagh
Music: Carter Burwell
Mildred: Frances McDormand
Willoughby: Woody Harrelson
Dixon: Sam Rockwell
Anne: Abbie Cornish
Red Welby: Caleb Landry Jones
Pamela: Kerry Condon
Jerome: Darrell Britt-Gibson
Polly: Riya May Atwood
Jane: Selah Atwood
Robbie: Lucas Hedges
Desk Sergeant: Zeljko Ivanek
Denise: Amanda Warren
Gabriella: Malaya Rivera Drew
Momma Dixon: Sandy Martin
James: Peter Dinklage
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.