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MOVIE REVIEW

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri also known as “Três Anúncios Para um Crime,” “Três Cartazes à Beira da Estrada,” “Tre manifesti a Ebbing, Missouri,” “Tres anuncios en las afueras,” “Tres anuncios por un crimen,” “Tres avisos por un crimen,” “Trzy billboardy za Ebbing, Missouri,” “Három óriásplakát Ebbing határában,” «Три билборда извън Ебинг, Мисури», «Три рекламных щита на границе Эббинга, Миссури»

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for violence, language throughout, and some sexual references.

Reviewed by: Jeremy Landes
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Dark-Comedy Crime Drama
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2017
USA Release:
October 7, 2017 (festival)
November 10, 2017 (4 select theaters)
November 17, 2017 (wide—590 theaters)
November 24, 2017 (614 theaters)
Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures Copyright, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Relevant Issues
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Murder and Justice

Murder of daughter

Alcoholic cop / DRUNKENNESS—What does the Bible say? Answer

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police brutality

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Arson and vandalism

Verbal abuse

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Justice of God

Seeking JUSTICE in an often unjust world

UNDERSTAND that no matter what you may do or not do in seeking justice, God is the one who will provide ultimate true and final justice. Nothing escapes his notice. He knows every dark secret and thought. He hates sin and will punish sinners.

What is the FINAL JUDGMENT? and WHAT do you need to know about it? Answer

THE FEAR OF THE LORD— What is it? Is it important? Answer

What is the “ANGER OF GOD”? Answer

What is the “FURY” of God? Answer

What is GOD’S PROVIDENCE? Answer

What is the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD? Answer

What is HUMILITY? and WHY is it important to be humble? Answer

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Issue of pain and suffering

Angry, grieving mother / how to deal rightly with personal grief

“Anger begets greater anger”

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

Death and afterlife

What is DEATH? and WHY does it exist? Answer in the Bible

What is ETERNAL LIFE? Answer

What is ETERNAL DEATH? Answer

Cancer

Cancer patient

Where did CANCER come from? Answer


Husband and wife relationship

Dealing with loss of job

Suicide

Suicide of husband

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a CHRISTIAN commits suicide, will they go to Heaven or Hell? Answer

Racism

RACISM—What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Featuring: Frances McDormandMildred
Woody HarrelsonWilloughby
Abbie CornishAnne
Sam RockwellDixon
Peter DinklageJames
Caleb Landry Jones … Red Welby
Kathryn Newton … Angela
Lucas Hedges … Robbie
John Hawkes … Charlie
See all »
Director: Martin McDonagh—“Seven Psychopaths” (2012), “In Bruges” (2008)
Producer: Blueprint Pictures
Daniel Battsek
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures. Trademark logo.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Copyrighted, Fox Searchlight Pictures

When a crime has been committed against your family, the human heart longs for justice or revenge. Characters in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” are engaged in a constant struggle to grasp satisfaction as compensation for their terrible loss.

Watching this movie is akin to slowing down for a couple hours to linger over the details of a bloody car wreck. Mildred Harris (Frances McDormand) was the single mother of two teens, until her daughter, Angela, was raped and murdered—her body mutilated by fire. Eight months later, Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) still has no evidence to catch the killer(s), so Harris decides to spur some action.

She purchases a month’s worth of billboard rights to display 3 messages designed to embarrass the police, and the whole movie deals with the fallout from her actions. Mildred begins feeling wrath from the people of Ebbing who don’t like the billboards, because the sheriff is well-liked, plus he’s dying from pancreatic cancer.

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Her ex-husband threatens, and the surviving teenage son scorns her. Even a priest comes by to offer unsought counsel: “If you just attended church more…”

Despite a stream of uncomfortable, profane confrontations, the story holds interest because Mildred refuses to accept people’s actions against her. She may be wrong to humiliate the police, but viewers may also wonder what lengths they would go to find a child killer.

Turning the other cheek is not part of her ethos. She’s like a wolverine who’s lost a kit. Watching several confused, bitter people find creative/strange ways to destroy each other can be morbidly entertaining, and I kept remembering the Coen bothers’ “Fargo”—not only because of McDormand’s central performance in each, but also because the 2 movies’ musical scores were created by Carter Burwell. The plot cycle of violent circumstances also echoes several other Coen movies.

During a rare moment of awe and beauty, Mildred questions whether God exists. Though left unsaid, her angry words and actions throughout embody the oft-heard protest: “If God exists, how and why would He let evil happen?”

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

Mildred is nothing like Job, who refused to curse God. She wants to curse God, blame others, and get some relief from her grief now—no matter how many people she must hurt.

Revenge

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” —Hebrews 10:30

  • How can I know what is RIGHT and WRONG? Answer
  • How can I DECIDE whether a particular activity is WRONG? Answer
  • What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Answer
  • What is GOODNESS?
  • What is RIGHTEOUSNESS? Answer
  • REVENGE, love replaces hatred—read the story of a former Israeli soldier and an ex-PLO fighter who proved peace is possible—but only through Jesus Christ
  • Goodness of God

What makes Mildred’s revenge attempts complicated is that the real killer of her daughter isn’t readily apparent, so her tactics just drag down many others caught up in the wake of her fury. Maybe the police should be doing more, but what? When you don’t know God’s love, how else should you respond when faced with terrible evil, like the murder of your child? Filmmaker and Irish playwright Martin McDonagh doesn’t offer us God-informed answers.

I thought the movie strained credibility several times with its too-tidy series of coincidences, leading the audience to believe one thing—only to pull the rug out later. The movie delights in Mildred’s facial expressions and profane one-liners in response to conflict, because this appeals to our sense of righteousness. We root for her because she’s been hurt so badly.

If you enjoy revenge fantasies like “The Patriot” or “Burn After Reading” (also starring McDormand), you might enjoy “Three Billboards…,” but I would still caution you that this kind of story can make your soul sick.

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About despair, fear and hope

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If you’re reading this review, you may have faith in Jesus, so you understand that death is not the end of life, but it’s the beginning of something new (see eternal life and eternal death). All of the characters in this movie (unrealistically, given its Bible Belt setting) have little or no hope in anything eternal, so they’re ready to kill themselves and others to make their points.

The world may consider this entertaining, at the moment, but my guess is that many Christian viewers will leave theaters feeling like they’ve sat through emotional and literal carnage.

  • Violence: Very Heavy
  • Profane language: Extreme—“Jesus Christ,” “Jesus” (2), “Oh For Christ's sakes,” “For Christ's sakes,” “G*d-d*mn” (15), “Oh my God,” “Holy sh*t,” “h*ll” (10)
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Extreme—almost 100 f-words (including “Altar boy f*cking,” “Any kind of boy f*cking,” “Neither is f*cking 19-year-olds,” “Listen, you f*cking beaner,” “You f*cking pr*ck,” “Look at this f*cking asshole,” “You f*cking pig,” “I ain't gonna f*ck you,” “Maybe I was the one who f*cked her when she was dying,” and 7 “motherf*cker”), “pr*ck,” “c*nt,” “b*tch,” “p*ss,” a**hole (2), a** (5), cr*p (4), s-words (25)
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: Minor—but there are many sexual references, including “I think that midget wants to get in my pants,” “They f*ck her too?”, “I want to f*ck her even more,” “That was a real nice f*ck,” “You got a real nice c*ck,” and the other words mentioned above

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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