There isn’t much crime in the small town of Ebbing, Missouri, so when a young teenager is murdered, everyone is shocked. However, seven months later the crime is still unsolved with no arrests made. This fact drives the mother of the victim, Mildred, to rent three billboards that lead into her small town. On those billboards is a haunting message to the town’s Chief, Willoughby . Mildred faces backlash for the signs from the community, especially when the Chief passes, but Mildred does not back down. She is determined to find the culprits responsible to her daughter’s untimely demise.
The emotionally driven Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was a tough watch for me. The plot has heartbreak after heartbreak and then leaves you hanging at the end. The topics discussed in this film range from suicide to rape to racial relations, which can be difficult for anyone to stomach. The ending felt similar in tone to The Lovely Bones. I just felt really unsatisfied, the vengefulness within myself really coming to the forefront after watching the film. I don’t want to see the universe take actions into her own hands, or the vague referencing of vigilantism. I want to see Law Abiding Citizen or similar films where we see the protagonist take matters into their own hands. But I do understand that the hard fact of reality is, is that most of us aren’t secret CIA members with training to infiltrate the prison system. Some of us are just single mothers, wanting to see the justice system do right by us. And I appreciate the film for that aspect. This was a real, troubled as they were, family dealing with one of the worst things that could happen to them in the only way they know how. Whether that be the rebellious nature of Mildred, or the escapism, with a 19 year old, of Charlie. Three Billboards was a visually stunning film. Some of my favorites scenes in the film were the ones by the billboards, where is nothing but Mildred and her thoughts.
Frances McDormand took my breath away with her portrayal of Mildred. I could see the determination in her eyes throughout the entire film. I also felt her despair, the devastation, but the determination to fight through resonated so much with me. Mildred was going to make something happen in this case, going to force the law to work for her, and it was admirable to watch. Woody Harrelson playing the part of Chief Willoughby was another force to be reckoned with in this film. You could feel the weight on his shoulders and you wanted to root for him. And in the end, even if you may not have agreed with them, you understood his choices. Dixon, played by Sam Rockwell, was such a problematic character. He made me cringe every scene he was on the screen, and I guess that lends itself to the ability that Rockwell was able to fully become that character. He was racist, he was sexist, he was just an angry little man, and it was hard to root for him when he tries to turn himself around. However, that fact also mirrors reality. If you are a problematic individual, people are going to question your intentions when you try to turn over a new leaf.
I’m not sure that I would want to watch this film again, just due to the nature of the content, but it was extremely well done. Grounded completely in reality and hardships, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri might not be for everyone, but I can see the appeal it is bringing in this award season.