Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: a review


When I first learned that Martin McDonagh had made another movie and it was starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, as well as Sam Rockwell, I was pretty excited. I really love his previous film, In Bruges; however, I could take or leave his subsequent film, Seven Psychopaths. The overall buzz for Three Billboards was pretty positive. When it got nominated for multiple Oscars, including best picture; I knew I was going to see it. So I did, last weekend with a friend. We were one of the last to be seated in a packed art-house theatre filled with middle aged (or older) patrons. All I can say was this film was not for me. But the rest of the audience seemed to be enjoying themselves, as there was much communal laughter. I think I laughed out loud once. Sigh.


I really wanted to like this film (and not jut because Frances McDormand’s character has the same undercut hairstyle that I have been rocking for over 20 years). The fault is not in the performances. The 3 main characters were skillfully portrayed. Without getting too spoilery, I guess I had seen other movies (Manchester by the Sea and Wind River) with similar themes involving loss of a child that I thought were more engaging and moving. I guess timing is everything.

I found the use of certain themes problematic such as Peter Dinklage’s short stature as a punch line. What a waste of great talent and charisma! The casual references to racism and homophobia were also problematic when applied to officer Dixon (portrayed by Sam Rockwell) whom the writer/director thought was worthy of a degree of redemption. I don’t think Dixon earned it in the film I saw. I felt like I spent a lot of time with some pretty unpleasant characters, who were neither interesting nor entertaining.

This is a movie about rage and how irrational and destructive it can be. I just don’t see what Academy voters and most critics are seeing as so special about it. I really wasn’t surprised or wowed by the story and it was hard to care for most of the characters. (Currently hoping Get Out will win best picture)

I know some of my friends who have seen the movie have enjoyed it and that has lead to some interesting discussions. In goes to prove that not everything is for everyone.

I have included some links below to eloquent Twitter discussions that elaborate on some of the problematic elements I touched upon. Just be warned, they are full of spoilers.


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