Just Been Watching…(125)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. (2017)

***No Spoilers***

I didn’t rush to see this film, despite the widespread critical acclaim, and the fact that it won a bucketful of awards, including Oscars. The reason was simple enough. I don’t really like Frances McDormand. Her long-time association with the films of the Coen Brothers (she is married to one of them) has left her with a lot of fans, but also an attitude about herself that I find uncomfortable. That said, when she is not over-acting, she can be excellent.

The film finally came to the television, so I thought I would watch it for free. It wasn’t directed by the Coens, so I hoped that fact would rein her in a bit.

For anyone who doesn’t know the story, Mildred’s (McDormand) daughter was raped and killed in the small town of Ebbing, and she thinks that the local police department is not doing enough to try to find the killer. In her frustration, she pays to hire three large billboards on the nearby country road, with a sign on each criticising the police and asking why nobody had been arrested for the crime. Repercussions follow immediately, as one of the local deputies, Dixon, becomes enraged at her and the owner of the billboards. Her son Robbie feels uncomfortable at High School when his mum is thought by everyone to just be a bitter crazy woman, and even Mildred’s ex-husband becomes involved, trying to make her give up on the billboards.

With no spoilers, I cannot really say much more about the story.

The casting is perfect, with an exceptional turn from Sam Rockwell as the deranged Dixon, and a nuanced performance from Woody Harrelson as the Chief of Police. McDormand still feels ‘familiar’ as the determined Mildred, but has enough vulnerability at times that we see the conflict and guilt inside her. Locations and sets feel completely authentic, and it has been a while since ‘small town’ America was shown so convincingly in a mainstream film.

My conclusion is that the film deserved all its praise, and more.
It is excellent.

52 thoughts on “Just Been Watching…(125)

        1. We had something similar in England, where a family ran a TV and newspaper campaign criticising the police for a child murder that was never solved. It went on for many years, and remains unsolved.
          More recently, there has been the huge attention about the Madeliene McCann abduction in Portugal.
          Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. It is an award-winning drama. Not perfect, but it kept my attention throughout.
      Given the sheer number of films I have watched in my life, that’s not easy to do. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. You may change your mind when you read where it was filmed, David. 🙂
      Sylva, North Carolina, USA (as Ebbing town)
      Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA (billboards on North Fork Left Fork Road)
      North Carolina, USA.
      Maggie Valley, North Carolina, USA (Restaurant scene)
      Dillsboro, North Carolina, USA (gift shop)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, when it comes to Middle America, it’s rare that a movie is filmed in the area depicted. There are exceptions, like “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” (at least part of which was filmed in Kansas City; I saw Paul Newman twice in two different film locations); Robert Altman’s “Kansas City” (the director was born and raised in K.C.); and “Winter’s Bone” (filmed in the Ozarks, where I was born), among a few others. I suppose North Carolina could pass as Southern Missouri. Sometimes, though, film locations are ridiculously unlike the movie’s setting.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Most states have a film commission that attempts to lure Hollywood and independent productions to their state. States also offer tax breaks, facilitate the granting of film location permits, etc. As you can imagine, there is a lot of filming in Nevada. In Missouri, not so much.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Like many dramas today, Theo, it has themes of guilt and redemption. I am not American of course, but I felt it had something to say about life in modern-day America. John (below) disagrees, and he is a really big film fan who lives in Los Angeles.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for this film tip, Pete, we will definitely watch it, it’s on our list now. We have have all the films by the Cohen brothers so we are looking forward to this one.
    Midway through the week already, time is passing by so fast.

    Best wishes to you all in Beetley, a big pat and hugs for dear Ollie included,
    The Fab Four of Cley

    P.S.
    You were right, “Everlasting Moments” is the perfect film for us! 🙂 Thanks again. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite being confident that this would be a well-made film, hence all the well-deserved supportive reviews, I don’t think I would be able to watch it unless I was in the right frame of mind; I don’t think it could be categorised as ‘entertainment’, although I do appreciate more demanding content form time to time. Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete, I hated this film more than almost any other that year. Every single plot point rings false. Simply awful…won’t go into spoilers to explain why for those who still want to suffer through it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Strange for us to have such differing opinions. (Except about McCartney) My main gripe was that it could never really cost $5,000 to hire 3 billboards in the middle of nowhere. Otherwise, I really liked it, especially Rockwell.
      But I am not an American of course. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pete, I didn’t get into the reasons as I don’t want to trip upon any spoilers, but for whatever reason, it hit me wrong out of the gate and only got worse from there…it’s probably exactly what would happen to you if you put on the McCartney album “Pipes Of Peace” – even I give that one a wide berth!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s fine, John. We are great online friends, and can survive disagreeing about one film, or a recording artist. That’s what makes life fun! 🙂
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Like

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