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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — ‘never a dull moment’

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — ‘never a dull moment’

May 07
22:54 2018

Directed by Martin McDonagh, 2017

20th Century Fox

The set-up is classic Martin McDonagh.

On the one hand quirky: on to the three titular hoardings, a local resident pastes in giant letters her complaint about Ebbing’s finest. On the other hand, brutal: “Raped While Dying,” the posters declare. “Still No Arrests? . . . How Come, Chief Willoughby?” If that uneasy mix worked well in McDonagh’s hitmen-on-the-run caper In Bruges, here it feels more problematic.

Yes, there are some darkly comic set pieces as Frances McDormand’s grieving mother goes all out for justice for her murdered daughter; and yes, the performances are outstanding: McDormand bagged an Oscar, as did Sam Rockwell for his deadbeat cop.

But while there’s never a dull moment, you’re left with the sense that weighty issues — racism, sexual violence — and emotional truth count for less than a cute one-liner in this part of Missouri.


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