Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – review

A grieving mother decides to shake the local police into action by renting three billboards, questioning the police chiefs competence regarding the investigation into the brutal murder of her daughter.

Is Three Billboards worth awards recognition? Yes, to start with Frances McDormand put in an amazing performance at the lead character, full of grief and so much rage. She carries the film and will deserve the Oscar.

Three Billboards is starting to receive backlash because a horrible bigoted character would appear to have a redemptive story arc despite neither showing remorse for his actions or being deserving of redemption. But I don’t think his character actually does earn redemption, he may be to on the way to being a better person but he isn’t there yet, far far from it. We are told by the police chief he is a good man deep down and a good detective but he shows the audience very little to tell us he is a good person and he is a terrible detective, being in a burning building without realising  everything around you is on fire is pretty poor detecting skills.

The main character who is so desperate for redemption, perhaps goes to far. She can be cruel, quick to violence and lacks though for others or even possible repercussions of her actions. Her behaviour and grief are taken into account by others and she is allowed to get away with things that others wouldn’t be able to. Perhaps this is the flipside of  what people see as the undeserved redemption mentioned above?

I actually think the backlash is more to do with the audience being unhappy with the resolution of the film, which I liked. Nothing is tied up neatly in a bow and the characters are left with some big moral questions to make and no real answers. Just like life really is.

Everyone puts in a good performance with one exception, Abbie Cornish. She has a terrible attempt at a Missouri accent which slips on every occasion into her native Australian.  Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson are always pretty reliable and Three Billboards is no exception.

Three Billboards is both comic and tragic and is a good character study about pain, loss and grief. Well worth a watch.

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