Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri review
In most crime cases, there are not just two, but many sides to the story. Let's say a thief was caught steeling someone's wallet. The victim and the police would agree that what he did was wrong and was damaging to the owner. The thief, in return, may say that he's dirt broke with a starving child and only needed a few extra dollars for some food. Are any of these people in the wrong? Yes and no. It all depends on the people and what it is their doing. A stolen wallet case is a simple wrongdoing, but what about an emotional scaring murder?
In the case of a movie like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, we get the case of a death of a teenager, and yet the scene was so clean that the authorities are hard pressed to even go after any suspects. So her mother decides to take action. Now what she does paints one picture about how the response has been. yet we do get another side about the complications about following the rules and not wanting to make false assumptions. So let's see how Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri looks at it’s though situation.
Single mother Mildred (played by Francis McDormand) is grieving over the loss of her teenage daughter Angela who was killed, raped, and burned. The local authorities have been investigating to find the culprits, but have yet to find any good leads. Having run out of patience, Mildred rents three billboards on a rural road with each one saying "RAPED WHILE DYING", "AND STILL NO ARRESTS", and "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?". This draws immediate attention from the locals whose reaction is quite negative. Mildred's son Robbie (played by Lucas Hedges) doesn't like the attention, her ex husband Charlie (played by John Hawkes) is furious, and the majority of the town sides with the chief.
Chief Willoughby (played by Woody Harrelson) is sympathetic to Mildred's frustration and even talks with her about his complications and how he's suffering from pancreatic cancer (the reason the town is siding with him). She nevertheless keeps the billboards going, which only make town folk even angrier. She and her son are harassed and she even attacks her dentist when things get violent. It doesn't help that fellow officer Dixon (played by Sam Rockwell) is high tempered, not that bright, and takes the billboards as a personal insult.
I find it amazing that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was not based on any incident and is an original story. It feels like something that could have happened, because of the characters involved. It would have been easy to make this story a corrupt police and show Mildred as a hero, but like that TV show Game of Thrones, almost everyone here is within a gray area. Including Mildred and Chief Willoughby, they have their strength, but heavy flaws that don't just affect the case, but their own lives. This is another example of a character study.
Because this is a movie that relies on it's characters, the actors are phenomenal. Francis McDormand plays a woman who had already had life beaten her down, but with that extra death on her conscience, makes her a storm cloud of angst. She carries a lot of stress, but also seems to believe she has nothing more to lose. Sam Rockwell plays a different kind of…stupid that you don't see too often. He's in his own lazy bubble with the concept that as long as things stay status quo, then he'll be fine. As the movie goes further, you see everything he understands falls apart and what that does to his personality.
I'll give this five red billboards out of five. Sorry that the review is short, but there's a lot in this movie I cannot give away. It's an engaging story that's not even much of a mystery. It's a character-driven drama at heart and knows how their actions will dictate the plot. Go see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and understand why even with all sides of the story on the table, it's hard to tell whose right.