Ben Oliver

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Why don’t you put that on your Good Morning Missouri fucking wake up broadcast, bitch?
03 March 2018

I tend not to read reviews until after I’ve finished writing mine, lest I inadvertently plagiarise someone else’s (probably superior) work. However, as the credits rolled I was very curious to hear what others had to say about Three Billboards. Sure enough it attracted its fair share of lovers and haters.

That makes sense because it’s all over the place. McDonagh tries to sneak his trademark dark sense of humour into a screenplay about grief, violence and forgiveness, and it doesn’t really fit.

To compound the problems, the plot twists and turns until it detaches itself from anything that seems like the real world at all. It goes to such lengths to toy with the audience’s expectations that it quickly goes from clever to contrived.

The protagonist is surprisingly uninteresting. She’s angry about her dead daughter, and she must be a good person because her friend is black.

The cast save the film. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage and Caleb Landry Jones all put in solid performances even when their characters make bizarre choices. The first three in particular lend much needed depth to what would otherwise be inconsequential characters.

I’m being way too hard on what is not such a bad film, but after the excellent In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths I think I could be forgiven for setting my expectations high. It’s a swing and a miss from McDonagh, but it’s worth a watch just too see the swing.

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