Three Billboards Inside a Masterpiece

A review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Frances McDormand as “Mildred Hayes” in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. Photo by Merrick Morton, courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of those movies where I watched it and thought, “Why can’t all movies be like this movie?”

It was released in November of 2017, but I hadn’t watched it until three weeks ago, because to be honest, the title sounded extremely boring and I didn’t even know what the movie was about. I judged a book by its cover.

So on one boring airplane ride to Los Angeles, I unenthusiastically decided to watch it, but only because it was nominated for an Oscar. As tired as I was, I stayed wide awake and couldn’t look away from the screen for the one hour and 55 minutes it was on.

This film is about a woman who purchases three billboards to use them to call out the police on them not solving the mystery of who raped and killed her daughter. The local police never solved the case and the mother harasses them about it, while trying to cope with her daughter’s death.

This film had me intrigued from the very beginning when Frances McDormand’s character wanted to purchase ads for three billboards. I immediately wanted to know why she was so passionate about getting these billboards, and the reason made for an interesting story line.

While this movie had a dark plot line, it was filled with comedic relief, maybe even too much at times. It would go from Sam Rockwell’s character throwing someone out a window to him doing something silly, and sometimes, it didn’t feel right to laugh.

The comedy was subtle and there wasn’t any outright jokes, but there were a lot of ironic situations or silliness that made me laugh. McDormand’s character would go from full-on yelling at her children about getting raped to throwing cereal at each other, in a humorous way.

Overall, the comedy element was needed so the story line wouldn’t make viewers too uncomfortable.

The amount of drama is what kept this movie interesting. However, so much drama surrounded Woody Harrelson’s character, which made it seem odd that all of it was happening to one person. So many dramatic events were already occurring in that town, so it seemed corny. They are in the middle of trying to solve who raped and killed a woman, and then Harrelson’s character announces he has cancer, making it seem so unrealistic that everything bad is happening in this tiny town. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking, “What other drama are they going to throw at us?”

However, my rubric for judging movies is based on how well it entertains, not necessarily how realistic it comes off. For entertainment value, this movie was fantastic.

It was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, but lost to The Shape of Water. I also watched that movie on an airplane, and I was only mildly impressed. I thought the cinematography was beautiful, but I had a hard time paying attention to this movie. I get the appeal; its theme of racism is important and aesthetically, it is amazing. If you love the color seafoam green, you’ll love this movie. Nearly every scene features the color. However, I felt like the storyline moved too quickly. One moment, this woman is seeing this fish-man for the first time, and the next thing you know, she is having sex with him.

If it were up to me, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri would’ve won every award it was nominated for. It is my perfect movie. Enough drama to keep the viewer interested, and enough comedic relief to make it enjoyable.