The local police and one deeply troubled mother are at odds when her daughter is murdered and nobody is arrested. The situation worsens and everyone involved is doing all they can to put an end to this tragic and horrible situation. So, does “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” deliver on the dark comedic tones promised in the trailers or should we lock this film up and throw away the key? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.
First, let me start by saying this film is not what the trailers hinted at. The overall story is darker than anything else I’ve seen this year. In fact, it’s so dark, I’m not even sure the comedy lands to provide temporary levity from an otherwise disturbed and well acted movie. While the trailer paints a more comedic look at a mother at her wits end, we don’t get the truest sense of why. From the trailer we know her daughter is murdered. However that’s just part of what takes this film into bleak and lightless territory.
Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) plays a completely wrecked mother on a war path for her idea of justice. Her daughter was murdered, and while dying was raped. Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) discovers he’s dying from cancer and so he puts a bag over his head and shoots himself through the brain while his family is asleep in the house. And Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) is the town racist who beats up and tortures minorities as well as a timid and shy billboard salesman (who he almost kills by throwing him out a second story window). Finally, there’s “James” the town midget (Peter Dinklage) who’s only real purpose seems to be an alibi for Hayes when she sets fire to the police station, almost killing Dixon and definitely permanently scarring him. This film is layer after layer of pitch-black story. While the acting in the film is superb you will not leave the theater feeling any sense of positivity. This movie sucks all the energy out of us as an audience and delivers on a thought provoking, albeit tenebrous, story of characters that are well developed, well written and constructed. Each individual in this film is believable and while other films reviewed this year had performances that felt more cartoony, these did not.
Overall, this film wasn’t what I expected but it delivered on all the aspects of story telling. From beginning to end, we understand the characters, their motivations, the reason(s) the plot is moving and why, plus we get a few ancillary characters to build on a sense of realism for this particular town and the primary folks driving the plot. However, there is no escaping the fact that this film is dark and depressing. I feel you have to be in a certain mindset before watching this movie because there is no joy to be found in this story. It starts of dark and ends with a possibility of diving further into the well of despair.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is in theaters now! If you are the type of person who can watch shows like “Law & Order: SVU”, “True Detective” or “Dexter” and still smile and cook a pizza afterwards, than you might enjoy this film. If you don’t mind seeing a well written, wonderfully acted movie that is dark and depressing, you’ll enjoy this film. It’s not for everyone but no movie really is. I enjoyed the overall movie despite its bleakness because all the actors do an incredible job in their roles. Check it out and be sure to have something happy to enjoy afterwards to boost your spirits.