The most family friendly movie you’ll see all year!
“A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.”
How does one deal with loss? Everyone deals with things in their own unique way, and for Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) buying three billboards is how she copes with hers. The biggest fear for any parent is the loss of a child, and when it happens unexpectedly and in the worst way imaginable, that can take a toll and have a serious affect on any parent. So when Mildred’s daughter Angela is raped and murdered she is determined to find those responsible. Well several months pass and NOTHING has happened, no arrests, no questionings and Mildred has pretty much had enough. So outside her house are three blank billboards. She takes it upon herself to buy them and writes up a harsh message for the chief of police, Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Mildred can’t believe there hasn’t even been one arrest. It’s pretty obvious that Willoughby and Mildred are familiar with one another, most likely growing up together in this small Missouri albeit fictional city.
Three Billboards at it’s core is how people rebound and cope with loss. For Mildred it’s putting up those three billboards. She knows this will not bring her daughter back, but I took it has a symbol, that as long as she has these in her life. There’s still a little part of her daughter left, which was hope. For Mildred’s son Robbie (Lucas Hedges), well he isn’t to thrilled about having these billboards outside their home. It’s hard enough for him having Mildred as a mother at the moment. Everyone in town knows who she is, and he may love her, but he’s a little embarrassed by it all. Now everyday he goes home, he has to be reminded that his older sister was raped and murdered, because as he puts it – if there wasn’t a second of the day he wasn’t thinking about it, he certainly is on the car ride home. They have a chaotic family, her ex husband was very abusive, both physically and mentally. Mildred is one of the strongest characters in film in the last year. Frances McDormand is a freight train, and gives such an incredible performance. Mildred is taking on the entire town and doesn’t back down from anyone, including the police.
Which leads me into the next part of the film, which deals with the police department in Ebbing Missouri. We have Willoughby, who is a level headed cop. He’s a family man and deep down it breaks his heart that he can’t catch the men responsible for Angela’s murder. But as he tells Mildred, they could not find a DNA match and there just wasn’t enough evidence to convict someone
. When he tells Mildred they can’t go around and get DNA from everyone in town, she doesn’t understand why they can’t and why it is ethically wrong to even consider that. She can only see the end goal, which is finding the killer, and she doesn’t care how she gets there. They have a complicated relationship, they understand each other, but at the same time can’t see eye-to-eye. You see, Willoughby has cancer and it’s killing him. So you feel for him, because not only is there a giant billboard telling him to do his job better, which he has, but he’s also dying. One scene in particular with Mildred and Willoughby where she goes into the police station for questioning, and you think you know how the scene is going to end, but then it takes a serious turn, and from there the whole movie kind of changes. Up in to that point, the movie was going in one direction, but after this scene, you couldn’t really predict anything that was going to happen. It’s an emotional scene, and it really makes the movie feel real and raw.
For most people this is Frances McDormand’s movie, but for me, Sam Rockwell steals the show. Remember his character from The Green Mile? Well just image that guy, but he’s a police officer in a small rural town. The definition of a nightmare if you ask me. He’s a bigot, a racist, he’s pretty dumb and he doesn’t mind beating a helpless citizen when he can. Jason Dixon is his name, and pain is his game. The character arc that his character goes through is something else. He literally has all the characteristics of someone who absolutely should not be a police officer, but he is actually the chiefs right hand man. He has one of the most uncomfortable scenes in the entire movie, it really puts you on edge. That’s what Martin McDonagh does so well. He’s the writer and director, and he wants you to feel uncomfortable. Listen, this is a small rural town, in the middle of Missouri, these people are saying every curse word in the book. They have ZERO filter, just think of a curse word, and someone in this movie says it. Some of the cops are unethical, the towns people are rude and quite frankly racist, and then there’s Mildred right smack dab in the middle. It’s a tug-of-war between the police and Mildred. Both think they are right, and in some way, both parties are right. So when things heat up (literally) between them, people are doing insanely appealing things to get the job done. I don’t want to spoil anything because this is a movie that makes you think. It’s about real world problems, these things are going on in everyday life, yet they kind of get turned into a “he-said, she-said” situation. In the end, Dixon learns how to kind of become a “good police” and take a step back. He’s been through a lot in his life, and that is the reasoning behind some of his behaviour. There are no excuses for how he acts and how he treats people, but when a tragic event occurs, he is determined to turn his life around.
Three Billboards has a ton of heart. It has many heart filled moments throughout the film. Mixed into all of that heart is uneasiness and often hilarious cruel moments. Moments where you’re not sure whether it’s okay for you to laugh or not. Some of it, is almost right in your face. I enjoyed this movie, not only is it well written, but the performances really shine through. Don’t be surprised if this cleans up at the Oscars in a month.
Check ya later,
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri = 93/100