Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 4.5/5 – This time of year, you experience a wealth of diverse films.  Being the last hurrah of the season, you get a mix of final blockbusters, family adventures and Oscar contenders.  Three Billboards falls into that last category.  For all its worth, this is one of the most intriguing, deeply woven character stories I have seen this year.  From the heart of each character to their convictions, it is a story that pushes the purpose of what it means to face the truth.  Even for some convenient tropes, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the best films of 2017.

Premise:  A mother faces the death of her daughter through unconventional methods.  With three billboards, a small town must face truths to find the real answers to the murder.

Being a character film, there is an emphasize on the group.  Please refer to the film’s IMDb page for the full list of actors/actresses.  The main characters are:

Frances McDormand as Mildred

Sam Rockwell as Dixon

Woody Harrelson as Willoughby

Caleb Landry Jones as Red Welby

Lucas Hedges as Robbie

These individuals do a superb job in creating distinct, odd but realistic characters.  Across the board (both major and minor roles), you get individuals whom are trying to live in this small town while coping with an unsolved murder case of a teenage girl.  With the intriguing but unpredictable dynamic between these characters, you get a sense of layered relationships that have complex connections to the past.  With a wealth of strong acting, you see the strong contrast in each of their personalities.  This weaves that ‘everyday’ occurrence through intrinsic avenues that allow for relationships, interactions and confrontations to just happen out of random circumstances.  The raw emotions of each character are woven with subtle dialogue, dark humor and humanistic overtones.  This provides a blur upon personal convictions, showing how every decision is not ‘right or wrong’ but just what they believe to be the best course of action.  No matter if it’s the mother (Mildred), sheriff (Willoughby) or any of the cast, you understand why they do certain things through non-traditional methods.  I could see any of these actors/actresses be nominated for awards, especially Frances McDormand as Mildred.

The heart of the film are its characters, so the bulk of the direction is focused on characterization.  The film puts you a few months after a tragic teenager’s death.  In that, the film’s plot revolves around Mildred (mother) putting up three billboards to put the spotlight on the Sheriff’s department who haven’t solved the murder case.  From this point, you’re completely enraptured by the honest portrayals of human conviction.  Within the first act, you get a mixture of ‘in your face’ dialogue, raw interactions and unexpected occurrences.  This allows for the director to layer drama, tension and comedic hijinks in a ‘everyday’ scenarios.  In those scenarios, you get to watch odd characters unfold their worth through ‘off the cuff’ humor, creating a very elusive dark satirical film.  The unorthodox conventions allow for typical tropes of ‘real life’ characters to unveil their hazy convictions.  This puts the audience on an unknown path that revolves around every aspect of the town, people and family members associated with the teenager’s death.  With the blunt admiration of the mother trying to find answer to the sheriff’s department doing all they can with the lack of resources allows the audience to see both sides.  This provides humility to the ‘why, what and where’ things happen.  Going from the first to second act, the truths about the characters evolve a storyline through subtlety of abstract ideas.  You have a complimentary of dire, heartfelt and realistic expectation that enforces simplicity through poignant expression.  You begin to live with each character as they tackle ‘everyday’ nuisances.  This shows relationships in the community becoming wholesome and pure.  You see the purpose to why things happen before and after, but also the flaws of harden human emotions.  As you begin to see the real truths, it weaves a gripping sensation that is honest, open and continually unpredictable.  You never know where anything is going because of the original takes on the important moments for the characters.  As you come to third act, it is a matter of realization of those unwanted truths.  Even with some common ‘coming to the terms’ character tropes, there is an infallible sense to the unknowns of the murder case.  This provides a climax that takes the reflection method, and turns it on its head.  The most obvious becomes thrown out the window, allowing for the characters to grow from the pain.  As the epilogue wraps up the story, you’re left with closure through irony.  The characters are left to face the journey of finding the answers the only way they know.

The cinematography captures the essences of small town America.  Bringing life through tragedy, you see the aesthetic of the small town through the eyes of the characters.  Providing that uniqueness of visual appeal, the reflections add a perception that compliments the atmosphere of Ebbing, Missouri.  This allows you to feel every little thing that happens to the community on a personal scale.  The score takes a fallback to the other parts of the film.  Being a strong character piece, sound and music isn’t a big importance to the overall enjoyment.  Even so, it is worth noting that it is basic soundtrack added to prop up emotional tones.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the best films of the year.  Capturing the essence of characters left in the wake of tragedy, you get a wealth of emotions and storytelling unique to the big screen.  If you’re a fan of indie films, character pieces or the actors/actresses involved, this is one for you.  It is worth the full price of admission, a moving experience at the theaters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *