Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Review


Fox Searchlight Pictures

Mildred Hayes stands in front of two of her billboards alongside a road outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Peyton Gaskill, Staff Writer

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri begins with with Mildred Hayes, mother of a murdered daughter, purchasing three abandoned billboards outside of her rural town, calling out the local police department for their seeming lack of effort to find her daughter’s killer. What follows is a winding and unpredictable tale of revenge, compassion, sorrow and anger.

First of all, this film is bursting at the seams with talent, and every actor brings some of their greatest performances to the table. Protagonist Mildred Hayes, played by Frances McDormand, police chief Bill Willoughby played by Woody Harrelson, and police officer Jason Dixon, played by Sam Rockwell, are the most remarkable performances. Each is able to bring a complex depiction of grief and anger to the screen that really makes each of these characters’ arcs both beautiful and brutal to watch.

One of the movie’s strongest traits is how unpredictable it is. The story takes unexpected turns, characters make unexpected decisions and problems have unexpected conclusions. This makes the movie feel fresh, and keeps the viewer interested and invested throughout the film’s entirety.

Many reviews and previews advertise this movie’s dark comedy. While there were plenty of moments of dark humor amongst the serious moments of tension, they served to provide relief to the audience in between serious and heavy scenes more than being a draw themselves. At its heart though, Three Billboards is far from a comedy, and much more of a crime drama.

My only complaint with the movie was the ending. By the end of the film, you become so invested in these characters that the movie’s vaguely ambiguous ending feels abrupt. While the characters’ journey wasn’t over, the story Three Billboards was telling had concluded and important loose ends had been tied. While I left the theater wanting more, the movie had little reason to give it.

Numerous topics were discussed and joked about throughout the film, including issues like racism, sexism, religion, police brutality and more. Their inclusion adds to the relevance of the movie and promoted discussion even after I left the movie theater. Controversy around these issues might turn off some viewers, but I thought it was well executed and enhanced the story.

If you are looking for a fun weekend movie to see with friends, Three Billboards is not the movie you should watch. However, Three Billboards is a fantastic filmic experience if you want a well crafted, thought provoking and well-told story. It’s worth watching, especially with someone you can discuss it with.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a 9/10.