Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is such a long name for a movie and it is not even trying to make a meaning out of it. As simple as the title is, it actually truly refers to the theme of the movie in some ways and perhaps also because the billboards play a relatively big role inside. Or is it? Well, for this Versus Review, let’s find out what Oscar and I thought about this movie (especially after it won the awards just days ago)
A woman’s daughter is killed in a brutal rape incident that is still left unsolved after months. She demands the police force in her town to do something about it and does it in her own twisted ways. However, things do not go as smoothly as every character in the town seems to be against her. Could she ever find her closure to the horrific incident?
Plotwise, the story actually meanders quite a but that’s not to say its slow. Far from it, I just got more and more interested and curious to know what the film would do next and it never felt like the pacing was too slow. There are also many things in the show that completely subvert audience expectations and yet when you think about it, it is logical for that to have happened in the way that it did due to the characters themselves. They kind of start the film in stereotypical Hollywood archetypes but the film goes on to show that no one is one dimensional and everyone is human. What it lacks in actual “events” happening, it makes up for in the showing, not telling of its many multi-faceted characters.
Oh, the plotline is nothing too special or original. However, it is shot from a different perspective and in a new fresh direction that makes this 2-hour movie enjoyable from the beginning till the end. The movie never tries to reveal too much of the events that happened in the past, and neither does it choose to show their conclusions. This film takes its pride and puts in most of its efforts in the characters and their relationships to one another. It plays with some stereotypical drama structure in the beginning but then begins to take a darker turn in the middle which raises the tension, keeping us guessing at what could possibly happen next. It succeeds in surprising me along the way with the choices that the characters have chosen in the middle portion.
Besides a slightly slow start, the rest of the film kept me hooked the whole way with intriguing buildups to surprising events, the events themselves and a well-placed heart-wrenching flashback. It meanders a bit at the end too but I think it worked for the film given how it was planning to end things.
I like the whole pacing from the beginning, where it starts slow but I think it fits the story flow. Also, it manages to pace itself well to avoid any boring moments or monotone scenes. However, there is a part in the middle-end portion that seems to drag just a tad too long and almost breaks the tension for me. Overall, it is excellent in introducing new events or characters.
The acting here is just sublime, one moment the mood darkly comical and sardonic, the next transitioning without warning to an all too realistic heartwrenching calm. The characters here are the real star and it just once again proves you have GOT TO get your characters right. Get them right and the audience will actually care/hate them and get emotionally invested in the film. Even the dialogue was on point and held nothing back, no censorship, no care for morals or any social conventions, going to places lesser films would utterly lose their shit at for just witnessing. The conversations, situations and character dynamics just felt so real, maybe even a bit too real.
The characters are the star of the story, period. They drive the story, which does feature any original plot and is actually pretty cliché in a way. I must applaud the actors for doing marvelous jobs at making their characters felt real and relatable. In fact, many of the characters from major supporting to minor supporting roles are not one-dimensional and all of them form this community that is just believable. Each of them features distinct personalities and you will feel for them even when they have just a few minutes of screentime. It is these links and complex relationships that make this movie enjoyable and make you empathise the main character even more.
The soundtrack only comes when it is needed and it always has a purpose in the scene its in. One of the tracks is even used as a plot device at one point.
The soundtrack is very minimal in this movie, but when they do play, it fits the scenes but not in a dramatic way. It is kind of giving them a more abstract meaning, especially with one of the songs being used extensively as a narrative device.