I was not sure what to expect, going in to see this movie. The trailer didn’t give me much to go off of, and the brief summary provided little information as well. I just knew it was a black comedy drama as I sat in the Michigan Theater, waiting for the organist to stop playing and for the movie to start.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri greatly exceeded all my expectations.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie that literally made me tear up and gasp and cringe, my hand covering my mouth as I watched tragedy and horror unfold that numbed my heart and chilled my spine.
This was that movie.
It brought the crime and the drama and the intensity and the violence that made your heart pound one second and stop the next.
It tackled issues of racism, divorce, rape, murder, suicide face on. It didn’t shy away from controversial scenes, and forcing it in your face so casually and blatantly is what makes this movie so powerful.
The best part of Three Billboards was definitely the characters, people so tough-skinned and resilient and raw and tender and so human. That’s the thing with Mildred Hayes and Chief Willoughby and Officer Dixon. They are so flawlessly full of flaws that it makes them painfully real. As the characters persevere through that pain trapped in their minds and exacerbated by the community, they maintain a truthfulness that allows them to forgive but not forget, a moral authenticity that rips them open viciously only to piece them back together, fragilely yet stronger than ever.
This movie shows humanity at its worst and at its most pure; it shows all sides of humanity, and it reminds you of the humanity in people, through the facades they put up.
It was brutally nasty and brutally honest. It was heartwarming and heart-wrenching. It was emotionally intense and intensely emotional.
Yet there was laughter throughout the movie, a humor so dark it brought light to this grim film. Frances McDormand’s caustic performance of Mildred Hayes, along with dim-witted, stereotypical clueless young girls, slow advertising men and eager midgets, helps ease the weight in heavy situations. This fine balance of drama and comedy worked perfectly as every scene kept you on your toes and engaged your heart and your mind.
At what price does justice come at? How can anger and hate be reconciled with hope and love? Is forgiveness possible? How do broken hearts heal?
To reflect on these questions and watch them transpire in a sequence of scenes of sinking realization, follow the journey of a grieving, bitter mother coming to terms with the haunting limits of reality and the remains of what life holds.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is now showing at the Michigan Theater with student tickets for $8.