Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
In the twist of emotion, it’s hard to make the sense of the current situation. The clouds of grief, pain, and loneliness limit vision. People reaching out to embrace or embroil; shouting to the heavens unaware of it’s deafening effect. Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri internalizes the volatility of these situations and allows them to play out to such great and entertaining lengths.
Writer/Director Martin McDonagh of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, crafts a script loaded with material that could be easily pigeonholed. Leaning too much into the dark and cynical would find the film in classic revenge exploitation territory— too saccharine and the film risks mingling with the Hallmark crowd. McDonagh may not have given a shit about this dilemma, as the film somehow caters to both while avoiding their pitfalls.
The magnitude of the context behind the titular billboards initially sets up a conflict that can be easily misconstrued as black and white. Those on the side of the tragedy fallen mother and those who are impeding her or those too lazy too find justice. The abundance of material and patience allows these characters to be broken down, down into many shades of grey or doubling down on black.
Serving to both keep the story exciting while giving the actors chances to flex, strong performances from the entire cast build this as a contender of one of the year’s best. Character arcs, even from smaller roles, are given as much care and scene-stealing lines as the mains. The dedication to giving their roles so much life that they appear that they are characters in their own main film and just passing through this one.
The skillful balance of black humor and patience in characterization allow Three Billboards’ truths to crash down upon its own cast, and onto the audience, as they leave theaters and exit back into a world that is reflected all too well in the film.