THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is a darkly comic drama from Academy Award nominee 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 (Academy Award winner 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
Frances McDormand was hesitant to take the role of Mildred when offered to her, but was eventually convinced by her husband, Joel Coen. She said, "Because at the time he gave it to me I was fifty-eight. I was concerned that women from this socioeconomic strata did not wait until thirty-eight to have their first child. So we went back and forth and we debated that quite for a while, and then finally my husband said, 'Just shut up and do it.'" See more »
There are no mountains in Missouri like those in the film. Even in the Ozarks deep in southern Missouri, the mountains are much rounder. See more »
[walking into his office]
You Red Welby?
Yes, ma'am. How may I help you?
I heard there's three billboards out on Drinkwater Road. You're in charge of renting them out, that right?
I didn't know we had any billboards out on Drinkwater. Where is Drinkwater Road?
It's a road out past the Sizemore turn-off. Nobody uses it since the freeway got put in.
You are right. Got three billboards out there. Nobody's put nothing up out there since 1986. That was 'Huggies'.
How much to rent out all...
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When you think about great cinema, you often imagine some grandiose epic setting which all that greatness builds upon. The likes of Gone With the Wind or Godfather or The Shawshank Redemption, such films span through decades or cover the major historic events.
But a great story isn't necessary grand on the outside. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is like a tiny rabbit hole size of those three wooden screens, but stick a head in - and you'll see a huge empty space laid with people's sorrow, guilt and regret. And that emptiness sucks you in and leaves no way to stay untouched.
But there's also hope. Hope for justice. Hope for retribution. And maybe even hope that it's still not too late to change something, or to change yourself. That nothing is absolutely black and white. That even in the darkest moments of our lives there's some room for a sense of humor, maybe a sad and bitter one but still one worth a warm smile.
This world is a crooked place, where crime often goes unpunished. And Peter Dinklage's small role in this film, as a reference to another not so pretty world where the "happily ever after" way doesn't quite exist, is a stinging reminder of that. TBOEM does not, however, try to pull the magic sword out of the stone and go crush the wicked and protect the righteous. Instead, it shows that sometimes, crumbling under the weight of the evil things that fall on us, we lose our own limits and become those who sow evil ourselves. Anger does beget even more anger.
And maybe the reason that makes America great indeed is that, with all the messed up stuff happening without and within, it's in your culture to value forgiveness, something Christianity teaches everyone but not everyone tends to listen. To suffer without guilt, yet to offer a helping hand to your offender when he's down and wounded. To break the circle of evil and help each other wake that yearning for decency that everyone has inside them, albeit dormant sometimes. Forgiveness is tough, and, just like revenge, it doesn't bring back the things - or people - we've lost. But at least it helps to hold onto what could still be here.
Yeah, it's just a movie, and most people aren't as deep and philosophical as the movie characters can afford to be. But if some unrealistic complexity (and sometimes even wisdom) of the simple people could make some real regular people on the other side of the screen stop and think over their own real regular ways, maybe that's exactly what we need from time to time. Because life is still here, and so are the multiple choices it gives, And which road to choose today, we can still decide along the way.
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