Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri


This movie is such an unusual mix of tragedy and humor it defies easy classification.  The plot revolves around an anti-heroine who has lost a loved one and her gritty and determined effort to find a balance between community mores and a yearning need for personal closure.


But more than that it is a morality tale clothed in the everyday trappings of small town Americana.  And although it opens a window on extraordinary events, what wafts in rings true to life.  Surprises abound but none of which strains credulity.  Rather the town exudes an understated resiliency found in the simplicity of the American character.


The story weaves a rich tapestry of many tangled threads.  The motley assortment of characters is far from stereotypical.  Instead individuals evolve to demonstrate surprising depth variously alternating between loving strength and selfish indulgence.  Ordinary people struggle to mostly find the right path between difficult alternatives.  One might say that at its core, the purpose of the movie is to put justice, and our sense of it, on trial.


While the humor is low key and mostly poignant and tends towards the dark side, the pace of the action is never tawdry nor fails to interest.  And while various sub-texts concern themselves with profound issues, the presentation boils them down to the simplicity found at their very core.


If there is any deficiency, it is perhaps in the profanity.  Coarseness of this sort may serve to gild the lily of tense scenes from a Hollywood perspective, but it is so far removed from the norms of Mid-Western culture as to be both distracting and disheartening.  This is all the more unfortunate as the acting is superb and more than sufficient to carry the scenes without the degradation of out-of-character dialogue.


Basically the movie is a good one.  Production values are good and the story line, if not great, is at least satisfactory.   So while the situations and issues are not of global import, and while individuals sometimes act with outrageous indifference for ordinary sensibilities, and while resolution is nowhere to be found, and despite the incongruous language, this movie is so unusual and refreshing and ultimately satisfying, that I can easily recommend it.