‘Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri’ – A welcome break from social issue dramas

To open the Oscar season with a comedy about the unsolved murder and rape of a teenage girl in small town America could be seen as risky. But, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein saga, director Martin McDonagh pieces together a tragedy suited to our generation. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri does not apologise for its train wreck of a protagonist or its foul mouth and is a welcome break from the morality of social issue dramas. 

Seven months after the death of her daughter, Mildred Haynes (Frances McDormand) erects three billboards calling out the police for the lack of arrests becoming a social pariah in the community. To Haynes it doesn’t matter that Chief Willoughby has cancer nor that her son is bearing the brunt of the town’s backlash. All she cares about is her own vengeance. And so begins a twisting chain of events which allows the cast to blossom, however the film lacks a satisfying finale.

While the flow can sometimes be clunky, McDonagh wedges in witty one liners reminiscent of his debut, In Bruge. The comedic delivery prevents the film descending into an unending stream of violence, although their effectiveness begins to fall short towards the end. Most of the characters are a fine balance of chaos and relatability, making for a compelling watch with Frances McDormand especially captivating as the grief turns her ugly and perhaps irredeemable. 

Three Billboards is unflinching in its reflection of humanity making it a must see despite a few flaws. 

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