Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
December 3, 2017 12:17 PM - Subscribe

In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.

Starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri follows a mother who takes matters into her own hands after the police in her town are unable to find a suspect in her daughter's murder by purchasing three billboards shaming the police for not solving the crime.

5 stars from Brian Tallerico at

And where, exactly, is the movie going? Not where you think. - Variety Critic's Pick

New York Times review

Anthony Lane in the New Yorker
posted by still_wears_a_hat (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
All the performances in this were amazing, but I had ... issues with the redemption arc of Sam Rockwell. Do I think it's possible for a violent racist to find redemption? Maybe, although it is not up to me to say how or at what point. I certainly didn't buy that I, as the moviegoer, was expected to grow fond enough of him by the end that I didn't mind that he'd escaped justice for what he had done to black citizens. I'm not alone in this. McDormand deserves an Oscar for this performance, but the movie doesn't deserve one.

It's funny that I immediately thought of The Beauty Queen of Leenane during the movie without realizing that the screenwriter had also written that play. There is a certain remove that reminds you that this is not a movie made by an American, even with fiercely American performances in a super-American setting. The sheriff is inexplicably married to a beautiful British woman a decade younger than he is, which, sure, I guess the internet could make that possible, but it took me some time to figure out which decade this movie is set in. All in all, a beautiful mess, I thought.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:42 PM on December 3

Haven't seen it, but the trailers highly intrigued me.
posted by Samizdata at 2:47 PM on December 3

When I thought about it afterward, I didn't buy Sam Rockwell's redemption either, but had no problem with it while I was watching it. I did have a hard time believing the police chief's wife and also the ex-husband's girlfriend - not that either one was unbelievable as a character, just that they'd be with those two guys. The girlfriend was hilarious, and totally convincing as a complete airhead.

I think what McDonagh is great at is making you believe something, then pulling the rug out under you. Over and over. I've seen enough of his stuff that I'm not surprised by it when it happens, but still never quite see it coming. I thought the reveal of who paid for the second month of the billboard was brilliant.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:22 AM on December 4

(I haven't seen the movie, but) Pop Culture Happy Hour reaaaaaaaally did not like this movie. Based on Gene Demby's reaction, especially, I'm going to skip this one.
posted by minsies at 10:41 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]

I just listened to the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode about the movie, and I mostly relate to the one host who found it kind of forgettable and didn't have terribly strong feelings about it, but everyone brings up a lot of good points that I agree with about how problematic it is.

My main takeaway when it was over was that while I appreciated the fine acting all around, every character was so abrasive that it would have been tough to stomach being around them much longer than I'd had to. At one point about halfway through the movie, a character we've never seen before steps into McDormand's gift shop that's full of little figurines, and before we knew anything about the guy except that he was shown stepping into a shop full of fragile things, all I could think was "Oh damn, what's he going to smash in there and why." (SPOILER ALERT: I only had a clear answer for one of those questions when the movie was over.)
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:49 AM on December 4

Not seen it, but I really love In Bruges, was pretty disappointed by Seven Psychopaths, and have been over the moon for this since I saw the trailer in March (!). That the movie seems to be more about the 'redemption' of the violent bigot played by Rockwell (Who is always interesting, but still...) rather than McDormand being a DGAF badass is a bummer. McDonagh is good at twisty-turny, so who knows, but this went from being the first movie I was damn well going to see in the theatre since Fury Road to shit, maybe I'll just wait for Netflix.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:54 PM on December 5

I don't think the movie is more about the redemption of the Rockwell character than about McDormand. The comments - here and elsewhere - seem to be, but not the movie.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 5:56 AM on December 7

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