I went to the Michigan theater at 4 this afternoon to see Loving Vincent which had sold out moments before I arrived, so I stood alone looking at a list of other showings. I turned around to see a good friend of mine also standing alone looking at a list of showings.
Turns out, my other friend likes to see movies by himself, too. He intended to see the Vincent Van Gogh movie today, but faced the same fate as I did. Both wanting to make use of our time at the beloved theater unfortunately without Vincent today, we bought two tickets to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.
And the two of us went to the movies alone together.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is dark comedy crime film written, produced and directed by Martin McDonagh. After months go by without investigation of her daughter’s rape and murder, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) purchases three billboards, each painted with a bold messages that challenge the Ebbing police department in hopes of capturing their attention to find the culprit of the crime. Not only do the police notice the billboards, but news casts turn their attention to the billboards. Soon, everyone hears about the Mildred Hayes billboards.
Without spoiling the ending, I will say that this provoked real emotions. There isn’t a perfect character or predictable plot line. There isn’t a happy ending. In fact, there is no evident conclusion at all. In a story like this, however, the conclusion is irrelevant. Too often I think we focus on the actual outcome of an obstacle that we forget the process that is involved to reach that ending. You hear it all the time: “it’s about the journey not the destination”. In the midst of frustration, it can be difficult to remember this, especially something as disturbing as the Angela Hayes case. The only thing on the mind is to solve the crime. Life does not provide instant solutions to these issues. This film teaches viewers that without the battling and boldness, vulnerability and doubts, the story would never develop how it does. Without subjecting herself to hatred from some people, Mildred Hayes would have not made progress in her daughter’s case. Despite the seemingly endless setbacks, she stays determined. This is perhaps the loudest message to be taken from the film. To relate this to a more common instance we may face, let’s say you are having a debate with someone. Initially, you may state your opinion, but it is unlikely that they will immediately adapt to your way of thinking. Everyone has their own feelings and opinions, and to permeate through these feelings is not an easy feat. Before entering the discussion with the other person, have a purpose for your words. Why do you want them to see from your perspective? Why is it important to you? Why is it important to them? You must follow reasonable points along the way to guide them to understanding your end goal. Likewise, Mildred Hayes has a purpose to find the culprit, but she does not directly to the police for the answer because, clearly, that had not worked in the past. Instead, she follows a process to engage them. Now, I don’t know if the other person will ultimately see from your vantage point. However, if this is conversation, you may have learned a thing or two from his or her vantage point. Though you may not see complete results right away, odds are you have made progress. Keep going.