Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Is a Thin Portrait of Small-Town America

From TIME - November 9, 2017

Tell someone you dont care for the work of English-Irish playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), and you might be labeled a softie, a flower too delicate for McDonaghs bitter-bleak comic vision of human nature in all its scarred, lumpy glory. But maybe youre just wary of his shtick. In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, McDonagh brings his winking, ostensibly observant eye to the American heartland. Frances McDormand plays Mildred, an Ebbing local and grieving mom. Her daughter has been murdered, the creep who did it was never caught, and the case lies dormant. Mildred blames the local sheriff, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). In her rage, she takes the matter into her own hands, inflaming dim-witted racist cop Dixon (Sam Rockwell) along the way.

Mildred favors one-piece workmans wear; her haircut looks to have been self-inflicted with a Flowbee. She says what she thinks, and its usually not so nice. This is what, in writers workshops, is generally called a well-rounded, fascinating character, though its really just a belabored one. Still, McDormands no-vanity performance is fun to watch, and Harrelson is terrific too. He canters through the movie breezily, and it deflates when he exits.


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