2017 had a lot of promising movies that were all a close contest for movie of the year. However, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was probably the winner in that category, for a few good reasons. Let’s get into why.
“Three Billboards” is a gritty drama film directed by Martin McDonagh. Set in midwestern America, a single mom fights a legal battle with the local police and nearly the entire town. Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand) rents out three billboards on a back road outside of her hometown of Ebbing, MO. They read: “Raped while dying”, followed by “and still no arrests?” and finally, “How come, Chief Willoughby?”
Hayes continues to fight the police, who insist that she takes the billboards down, especially Chief Willoughby (played by Woody Harrelson). The chief says he feels attacked, and there isn’t much he can do. Mildred is infuriated that she won’t get justice for her murdered daughter, so she takes matters into her own hands.
Mildred turns to the church for assistance, but is turned down by the priest saying she doesn’t attend church enough. Her response is probably one of the best rant scenes in recent history (explicit, I won’t include it here), saying she could have the entire church arrested to keep it brief.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the movie as I highly recommend seeing it, but I’ll explain why I find it so intriguing. I find that the atmosphere of a small Midwest US town was executed perfectly, with the close community and the feeling of isolation being very present.
Another good point is the dialogue, which I thought was a huge plus. It didn’t hold back and made up most of the story, and insults or rants really seemed to sting whenever there was an argument. Action was very tense and important to the plot when needed, and helped to further the perpetual feeling of tension throughout the movie.
Of course, the movie had a couple of shortcomings, which is only natural. One of these is that the plot escalated quickly in the beginning, then slowed down a bit in the middle. For example, Woody Harrelson was off the big screen pretty quickly due to his character’s death. Another is the number of people seemingly against Mildred, but none took too much violent action against her for some reason. She was threatened and attacked once, but for the entire town being against her, it seemed pretty light.
All in all, I found “Three Billboards” to be a very robust, unique and well-executed movie overall. I’ll rate it using stars, as it’s commonly understood and a numbered rating seems subjective. I’d give it a 4.5/5 star rating because it wasn’t perfect, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in recent memory.