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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

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In theaters November 10.

In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.

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3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Penelope
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James
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Red
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Angela
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Charlie
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Robbie Hayes
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Crop Haired Man
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Abercrombie
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Father Montgomery
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Storyline

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is a darkly comic drama from Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh (In Bruges). After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter's murder case, Mildred Hayes (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson), the town's revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother's boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing's law enforcement is only exacerbated. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

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Comedy | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual references | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

10 November 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Három óriásplakát Ebbing határában  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The town where the movie is filmed is actually a small mountain town in western North Carolina called Sylva. See more »

Quotes

Mildred Hayes: This didn't put an end to shit, you fucking retard; this is just the fucking start. Why don't you put that on your Good Morning Missouri fucking wake up broadcast, bitch?
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Soundtracks

Walk Away Renée
Written by Michael Brown, Bob Calilli and Tony Sansone
Performed by The Four Tops
Courtesy of Motown Records
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User Reviews

 
A Tale with No Easy Answers
17 October 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the words of poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, the beauty of film is "You get poetic justice in less than 3 hours. You often don't get poetic justice in a lifetime." If that'd be the case than the collective works of Martin McDonagh serves as a counterweight to such thinking. His films, often involve looking in vain for the nebulous concepts of love, justice and meaning in a post-modern world. His characters, likable if deeply flawed, shout into the void but never find the answers they seek.

Thus it's hard to truly gage a film like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Much like In Bruge (2008) and Seven Psychopaths (2012), this film is rich with wit yet syncopated in its own world of messy loops, twists, turns and tones. The story begins with the melodies of Renee Fleming's "Tis the Last Rose of Summer" but then ends the first five minutes on the screen in capital letters. The letters spell out "RAPED WHILE DYING," "STILL NO ARRESTS?" "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY". So starts the saga of the Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, sanctioned by a grieving mother; printed for a dying man.

The mother in this case is Mildred Hayes (McDormand), who much like her billboards stands unwavering. She's hassled by everyone from Sheriff Willoughby's (Harrelson) clueless deputies to her ex-husband Charlie (Hawkes). Still, even when her son Robbie (Hedges) is incensed to give her the silent treatment, Mildred demands her message be heard. Her teenage daughter was raped and murdered seven long months ago and nothing has been done. She wants justice.

Yet the funny thing about justice in this movie is the moment you get a good handle on the concept, the film bleeds it away like water from outstretched hands. So too do the characters. Every time you get a firm understanding of who they are, something logical yet wholly unexpected forces you to assess and reassess. No one else best exemplifies this than Sam Rockwell's Office Dixon who goes from a racist Barney Fife to a numbed Travis Bickle with nary a dropped beat to make you question the change.

The ensemble carries the film through a lot of ugliness with grace. We glide uncomfortably close along the sharpened edges of rape, murder, abuse, suicide, alcoholism and racism. All the while questions like: "is it okay to be angry in an unfair world?" and "how do our decisions affect others," smear into the ashy black comedy and imposing melodrama. Deep care was given to breathe life into these characters. Even when someone as non-consequential as Charlie's nineteen-year-old girlfriend (Weaving) enters the fray you can't help but admire how these people interact and curious about how they must feel.

Martin McDonagh more than ever invites comparisons to the Coen brothers in this film. A signal that to me at least proves McDonagh is ambitious, but out of his weight class at this point in his career. For while the Coen's approach their films with the same character-first, free-form narratives, there's always a level of benevolence behind the cynicism. Here, instead of smirk-worthy amusement there is anger. Instead of cosmic curiosity there is more anger. Instead of wonder, there's just more anger, and you know what they say about anger; it just begets more…anger.

If anger were the spice of life, then this murky soup would definitely be worth consuming. But as it is not, regular filmgoers should approach this witty, richly rendered film with extreme caution. McDonagh's oeuvre is an acquired taste and those liable to agree with Bachchan's approach to film may walk out severely shook. But for those fixing for an overall decent barnstorming black comedy, the "Show Me" state might just have something for you.


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