Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Updated: Oct 16, 2018

As viewers delve into Martin McDonagh’s fourth feature, a grim and saddening world is revealed. While similar to the dark humor in his previous films, McDonagh builds upon a story which focuses on the hope and drive of main character Mildred Hayes, after her daughter’s murder. Beginning seven months after the crime, the police station of Ebbing, Missouri has grown lethargic in regards to catching the perpetrator. This is what leads Hayes to rent three billboards outside the town, after having been unused for many decades prior. In her words: “The more you keep a case in the public eye, the better your chances are at getting it solved.” These billboards, an eccentric and extreme form of protest, do just that. Mildred’s attempts to disturb the townspeople are effective, leading to a series of torment against her. McDonagh develops this story into that which makes Three Billboards his most human film.


Events throughout the timeline of the story, unpredictable and alarming, present themselves in a sincere and brazen manner. Not in a very long time have I been so emotionally affected by a film, which does not fail to get its point across. Depicting many real-world concerns, such as racism, police-torment, and straightforward insensitivity amongst people, it’s shocking to know it was written eight years ago. McDonagh has created a truly compelling, endearing, and enduring character through Hayes, which is, without a doubt, one of the strongest female characters I have seen in my life. Frances McDormand brings this character to its utmost manifestation, working  marvellously in unison with her fellow actors, while still pushing her role to act against them.

Each character in the story goes through such extreme development, written with such intricacy and focus, that nearly every one possesses a characteristic with which its audience can feel for. McDonagh drags his antagonists through mud puddles before cleaning them and hanging them out to dry, which is what makes them so alluring. In the beginning of the story, you are meant to assume the cops are the villains, he is very clear in that regard. He elaborates on this through many instances where these officers showcase fearful habits, before taking each through a heavy realization. Every person in the script has a very established role, and succeed in giving the audience a different moral through their perspective.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a story about grief and human tendencies following happenings of tragedy. Martin Mcdonagh has written a fictional masterpiece, causing those to question how we truly regard narratives. This film speaks truths beyond those which are anticipated, making it my favorite film of the year.

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