My rating IMDb Rotten Tomatoes
Critics Audience Critics Audience
9/10 87/100 8.5/10 93% 88%
“Raped while dying”, “And still no arrests”, and “How come, Chief Willoughby?” are the sentences written in the three billboards that had been empty for years just outside the city of Ebbing. Mildred (Frances McDormand) decided to put up those signs after months waiting for her daughter’s murder case to be solved but, as the billboard explains, no one has been arrested in connection with that crime.
Being a small town, the billboards quickly drew everyone’s attention, with many condemning her actions and defending Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), but she has no intention of taking them down. Chief Willoughby’s main defender is Dixon (Sam Rockwell), a very racist and stupid police officer with possibly the worst mother one person could have.
Described like this, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri sounds like a drama. However, it is one of the movies that made me laugh the most this year. Sure, some of them were nervous laughs while I would think “Oh, no, I can believe she’s doing/saying this!”, but it has funny moments nonetheless.
While the topic is serious and the sadness felt by Mildred is real and palpable, director/writer Martin McDonagh is able to bring some humor out of these situations to the audience, as well as to point out the issues with violence against women, abuse of power, racism, etc.
The most important topic covered, however, is the desire of revenge and taking matters into one’s own hands. It only brings out more anger and further thoughts of revenge, which is a situation where everyone loses.
The cast is fantastic, with Frances McDormand giving a jaw-dropping performance as the mother so filled with grief and desperation that she can’t see anything good in the world anymore (and is not interested in finding it). Woody Harrelson is always fun to watch and is very entertaining. Finally, Sam Rockwell’s performance is incredible, as he is able to take the audience into a roller-coaster of emotions and feelings towards his character as the events unfold.
The ending was not the best one, in my opinion, as it reinforces some feelings that I thought should not be reiterated after two hours of revenge-seeking, but it didn’t upset me enough not to recommend this film to everyone.