Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, October 2018) As I’ve grown up to become a cranky middle-aged movie reviewer who gets to complain that they don’t make them like they used to, here comes Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to reassure me that while original mid-budget realistic drama movies are on life support, they’re not dead yet. It does help that even within the context of a contemporary adult setting, writer/director Martin McDonagh gets off to a roaring start with a strong premise: a small-town woman putting up three highly critical billboards demanding justice for her murdered daughter. The event sparks dramatic conflict across an ensemble cast of strong actors, reaching across a community to spur characters to action. As befits a film written by a playwright, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an actor’s dream with several strong sequences, well-developed characters and a dark sense of comedy that keeps viewers interested from beginning to end. Frances McDormand now deservedly owns an Oscar for her performance here, but there’s a lot more good material from Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. A strong plot means that the film’s 115 minutes go by in a flash, with a conclusion that provides some comfort but not an entirely wrapped-up happy ending. It’s quite a ride, and I couldn’t be happier to see how Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri leveraged its critical success to become a commercial one as well.

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