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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri delivers dark humor, drama

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Fall and winter are an exciting time to be a movie watcher. It’s the time when studios drop their Oscar-hopeful projects, and the resulting films are often the best of the year. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (or, more simply, Three Billboards) certainly fits into this category.

The film centers around Mildred Hayes (in a career-topping performance by Frances McDormand), a hardened Missouri woman struggling with grief and guilt after the brutal murder of her daughter seven months prior in an unsolved case that’s gone cold. Frustrated by the absence of leads and what she perceives as the lack of investigation from the local police force, Mildred rents out three billboards on a road on the edge of town attacking the well-respected police chief, Chief Willoughby (played masterfully by Woody Harrelson). This bold move leads to countless confrontations within the small town of Ebbing, especially when the unintelligent, violence-prone but also not entirely hateful police officer Jason Dixon (in an excellent performance by Sam Rockwell) gets involved. John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, Abbie Cornish and more give solid background performances.

The acting was excellent, especially the performances given by McDormand, Harrelson and Rockwell. Mark my words, this film is going to be at the forefront of the 2018 Oscars, because the performances, directing and screenplay were just that good.

Overall, I didn’t completely love this movie, but I really liked it. It kept me entertained the majority of the time — I’ll admit there were a few moments when I found myself zoning out — and I liked the ending. I wouldn’t say that Three Billboards is the sort of movie that’s designed to attract teenagers, but it’s certainly a must-see if you appreciate dark comedy-dramas in a style similar to the Coen Brothers. Dark is the right word for the overall atmosphere — after all, it pretty much centers on a mother’s revenge quest — and it’s heavy on the violence, which at times reached brutal levels, but there’s some surprisingly funny humor present and a real sense of seeing the layers of very complex characters.

If the pretense of this film seems like something that you’re interested in, I would definitely recommend seeing it. If your movie tastes run in the fast action/blockbuster genre, then maybe give it a pass. All in all, this is a great film that leaves a mark, and I’m glad to have seen it.

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