Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


(out of 5)

The sleepy little town of Ebbing, Missouri is brought to screaming consciousness when one woman’s frustration over the unsolved rape and murder of her daughter inspires her to do something about what she feels is lax law enforcement:  spends the money to put a message on three billboards near her home that have a not-so-subtle message for the town’s police chief () that question his potency in the job.  It turns out the town isn’t quiet but is actually squelching its problems, which also include violent, racist cops, nutty dentists and occasional visits by dangerous drifters, none of whom can scare our heroine away from her mission to discover the culprit behind her daughter’s death.  Famed playwright turned filmmaker Martin McDonagh lets plenty of provocative cusswords and politically incorrect phrases fly free and wide in order to, I assume, address American contradictions about its own culture, displaying a town that is far more concerned about the attack on Harrelson’s reputation than the death of a young girl as a way of criticizing the backwards manner in which the country deals with its social issues.   It’s clearly a script by a playwright who is writing about America but is not American, drawing his characters with plenty of humour but little affection and providing suspiciously articulate dialogue for people who have been drawn as being inarticulate about their own lives or emotions.  McDonagh can’t help but lay all his symbolism on far too thick, the men all cause mayhem while the women are seething with frustrated rage, and when they do make a move they are met with criticism and reprisal (just like on Twitter!).  Such preachiness would be fine except for one big problem: it’s a comedy and it’s not particularly funny, its dark humour made unpalatable by a plot corrupted by a bitterness that is only momentarily relieved by joyful expressions of the kind of gruesome violence that McDonagh does so well.

/USA, 2017

Directed by

Screenplay by Martin McDonagh

Cinematography by

Produced by , , Martin McDonagh

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals: TIFF 2017, Venice 2017

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Independent Spirit Award Nominations
Best Female Lead (Frances McDormand)
Best Supporting Male (Sam Rockwell)
Best Screenplay

Venice Film Festival Award
Best Screenplay

Los Angeles Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Actress (Frances McDormand)
Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell)
Best Screenplay

Golden Globe Awards
Best Motion Picture-Drama
Best Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama (Frances McDormand)
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Sam Rockwell)
Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

Best Director (Martin McDonagh)
Best Original Score, Motion Picture

Toronto Film Critics Award
Best Actress (Frances McDormand)

Best Picture
Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell)
Best Screenplay, Adapted or Original

Screen Actors Guild Awards
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Frances McDormand)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Sam Rockwell)

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Woody Harrelson)

Chicago Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actress (Frances McDormand)
Best Original Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell)

National Society of Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Actress (Frances McDormand)
Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell)

British Academy Awards
Best Film
Outstanding British Film
Best Leading Actress (Frances McDormand)
Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell)
Best Original Screenplay

Best Supporting Actor (Woody Harrelson)
Best Director (Martin McDonagh)
Best Cinematography
Best Editing

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film (Martin McDonagh)


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