Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Review – Impressive, Powerful Character Driven Performances

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, presents the story of wrath, rage, and anger, deep, unquenchable, unfathomable, burning, gnawing, seething, bubbling volcanic murderous rage and those who have yet to learn to cope, manage and hope.

Directed and written by Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Caleb Landry Jones, Sandy Martin, Zeljko Ivanek, Kerry Condon, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Malaya Rivera Drew, Lucas Hedges, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes, Clarke Peters, Amanda Warren, Christopher Berry, Kathryn Newton, Samara Weaving and Peter Dinklage.

Three Billboards begins with Mildred, played by Frances McDormand, driving down an old two lane road passing three unused and weathered billboards near, what we find out is the outskirts of Ebbing, Missouri and a direct shot from her hilltop home she shares with her son, Robbie, played by Lucas Hedges.


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She decides she is going to rent the signs and heads over to the only outdoor advertising company in Ebbing run by Red, played by Caleb Landry Jones, someone who becomes intimated by stronger personalities, which is nearly everyone in Ebbing, Missouri.

The signs which call out Sheriff Willoughby, played by Woody Harrelson, for the fact that has yet to find the persons responsible for raping and murdering her daughter and as the signs say, “Raped while dying.”

The fallout from the Billboards is instantaneous. As they were being put up, Deputy Jason Dixon, played by Sam Rockwell, an mama’s boy with deep seeded anger issues and a penchant for unabashed and irrational violence.  

The next day Good Morning Missouri is interviewing Mildred, who is simply hoping to jump start a cold case, her case, and to find her daughter’s killer.

By noon the day after the billboards went up the Deputy and Sheriff had paid Mildred a visit. The audiences is given only a single passing photo of the crime scene remains of Mildred’s daughter, Angela, played by Kathryn Newton, who was raped, murdered, and burned to death.

In the year that has passed since she died, the Willoughby and Mildred have been dealing with Post Traumatic Stress anger. Willoughby, as these crimes happen in other places, bigger cities, even bigger cities close, but not this level of vicious, depraved indifference. And he couldn’t solve it. As much as it gnawed at him each day, he couldn’t solve it.

Mildred and Angela, as we find out, had fought on the last day and had let her go out of the house without working it out not knowing the next time she would see her she would be unrecognizable.

Dixon as we find out later was much more attached to the Hayes Case then anyone knew, saving the only crime scene file when the police station was bombed.

As Three Billboards progresses we find oddly, the once enemies really want the same thing: justice.

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, is almost an analogy of the big statements crime victims make in order to move a cold case back into the public eye. As Mildred reminds the audience throughout the film, the greater the chance of getting a cold case solved is to keep it in the public eye.

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri deals with such dark subject matter and oddly the characters are able to put a comedic twist on these deeply affecting and horrific events. Oddly, and of course, life doesn’t stop because unspeakable tragedy struck.

This films strikes a chord of reality, which I suppose, is why audiences everywhere area able to relate. The brutality of the crime and the complete shut down of the judicial system which is what so many victims experience as they wait and hope always wondering what they can do to restart the cold case or at least stop the antagonistic attitude of the sheriff who is simply trying to avoid another confrontation in which he has to admit he has no new evidence and can’t really help.  


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Anger, we see has three faces, the quiet seething wrath of Mildred who walks softly and creates a big platform; the overt, over the top active volcanic rage of Dixon, who has yet learned to handle his emotions; and Sherriff Willoughby who is also keeping a secret from most and shouldering the burden of inability and worse.

Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell give notable performances with a great supporting cast including Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Abbie Cornish, Caleb Landry Jones, Zeljko Ivanek and Peter Dinklage.

Three Billings Outside of Ebbing, Missouri is an edge of the seat dark dramady. It is powerful and impressive.

Three Billings Outside of Ebbing, Missouri opens Friday, November 10, 2017. See this film.

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