Movie Review with Brandon Yechout – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Kainin Blissett

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” is the latest film effort from renowned Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, known previously for directing such films as “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths.” The film looked intriguing enough from the trailers, and, having not seen any of the director’s previous films, I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. What I ended up getting with this film was quite a rare experience, for me, and I mean that in the best of ways. I’ll go into detail with that notion in just a moment.

The film centers around a woman called Mildred Hayes, who resides in the small fictional town of Ebbing, Missouri. Her daughter was raped and murdered seven months prior to the film’s beginning, and she has grown incredibly bitter over the state of her daughter’s case, as the police have yet to arrest the person responsible or even make significant progress towards solving the murder. She rents out three billboards on the edge of town, and has provocative messages put upon each of them that target the police force, and specifically, Bill Willoughby, the chief of police. Controversy, violence, and outrage ensue in Ebbing as a result of these billboards, as Mildred must remain firm in her resolve against the overwhelming opposition in her quest for justice, or, at the very least, closure.

Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both provide powerhouse performances in this film as the fierce and embittered Mildred and the bumbling and bigoted Dixon, respectively. They practically steal every scene that they’re in. The drama of the film had me captivated throughout; for much of the film, the viewer is hit repeatedly with brilliant dramatic setup after brilliant dramatic setup. My mouth was agape for much of the film’s runtime, as I was genuinely awestruck by the consistent brilliance of its setups. Poignant juxtapositions and sharp dialogue litter the film, making for a wholly absorbing viewing experience.

That’s not the say the film is perfect, however. Despite all of its merits, it is still lacking in a few areas. For instance, there are a few glaring plot holes and oversights in the film that can really distract if given any amount of thought. One of the main character’s close friends is arrested, as the police force believes that this will discourage her from continuing. This is only relevant for one scene, and the friend is not mentioned again, until the end of the film, where they more or less appear out of nowhere simply to announce their release. Later in the film, one of the characters, a police officer, brutally assaults two people, even bringing one to the brink of death. He loses his job as a police officer but faces no consequences otherwise. I also didn’t care much for the film’s ending, and I think that the film would have been better off ending a few scenes earlier. There were plenty of moments in the last stretch of the film that I felt would have been perfect for the film to end on, but the film disappointingly continued moving towards a more lackluster, nonsensical ending.

What made this a rare experience for me, though, is that in spite of all of the problems that the film has, I was willing to overlook many of them simply because of how good some other aspects of the film are. What might have normally hampered down my viewing of the film hardly affected me at all, as I was so engrossed in the excellent drama and the excellent performances that I couldn’t have cared. I was even deliberating a four-star rating while watching the film. Ultimately, though, I sobered up to some of the film’s faults. Still, if you’re at all interested in good drama, I would highly recommend this film. Brando’s rating? Three-and-a-half out of four stars.