Friday, December 29, 2017

'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Is a Snarky, Amusing, and Touching Film That Preaches Against Anger

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is about a mother who gets fed up when no arrests have been made yet even though months have already passed since her daughter was abducted, raped, and murdered.  In a controversial move, she rents three abandoned billboards nearby a road outside her small town which begs the question to the local, beloved chief of police.  As a result, she and her son are harassed by the upset townspeople.

This is the first Oscar-buzzy movie that I’ve enjoyed in this year’s awards-baiting season.  It’s an excellent black comedy crime film.  It’s funny and poignant, amusing and sobering.  The script is packed with wit, snark, and heart.  And the performances are searing and resonating.
There are three important character arcs here, and they are all extremely well-acted, thoughtful, and rewarding.  The first is the main character Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), the grieving mother who is mad and exasperated that the heinous crime committed on her daughter has remained unpunished.  She has a tough and hard-hitting personality, always ready to give biting remarks or perform reckless actions.  By renting the billboards, she doesn’t necessarily want to attack the chief of police, who she knows is a good person, but to provoke him and the police to investigate the case more seriously, closely, and efficiently.

The second is Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the chief of police.  He’s sympathetic to Mildred, but he’s also annoyed of her actions.  Along with this matter with the billboards, he also has to handle a worsening cancer.

And the third is Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell), one of the Willoughby’s officers. He’s notorious for being a racist and a mama’s boy.  He’s immature and impulsive, and is prone to making dumb and violent deeds.  In the end, he probably has the most profound arc among the three as he undergoes significant character development.
Anger is the film’s main theme.  It arises constantly and in different forms throughout the movie.  And letting go of anger and learning to forgive are the main lessons the film prominently pushes.  The message is beautifully integrated and executed in the story that it really makes a touching, lasting impact.

Not only is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri one of 2017’s best made and freshest films, but it is also one of the most meaningful.  This will likely make my year-end “Top 20 Movies” list.

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