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Westside Steve

Three Billboards review

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Three Billboards outside ebbing Missouri
Fox Searchlight
R.                         115 min

Some of the films in this issue have been around for awhile because, unlike most movies with Oscar buzz, these were released earlier in the year. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MONTANA is one that slipped under my radar but has officially entered the fray with a best picture nomination.
Among the reasons the academy selects films for the best picture category is a story that’s out of the ordinary, and this one hardly fits into any broad genre and almost no typical characters.
Mildred Hayes (another excellent performance from Frances McDormand) is emotionally devastated when her daughter is raped and murdered after the two of them had an argument which led to the daughter walking alone to a party. As it is in so many random murders the killer is never found and Mildred blames Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and the police department. His officers, especially  Dixon (Sam Rockwell) actually do seem like incompetent rednecks and Mildred spends every dollar she has to take out three billboards on a little used road leading to town calling out the police and their inability to solve the crime.  This, of course, produces strong reactions from her friends family and other members of the community.
Immersed in a personal life tragedy the chief turns out to be the unexpected catalyst but I won’t tell you why. I can tell you that there’s no happy ending per se but a conclusion, though bittersweet, we can live with.
Three Billboards incorporates some fine acting and some of the best character development I’ve seen for a while. I’ve never been a huge Harrelson fan but he’s perfectly cast in this situation earning him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. 
There’s a temptation to see this one as a little too politically correct, but I don’t agree. I think everyone comes to terms with their demons as best as they can, and nobody is spared self-awareness in the end.

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