The Patience Of Job

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Stars: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Samara Weaving, Peter Dinklage and John Hawkes
Director/Scriptwriter: Martin McDonagh
Composer: Carter Burwell
Cinematography: Ben Davis
Fox Searchlight
Rating: R for violence, themed material and profanity
Running Length: 120 minutes
Note: there is no town named Ebbing, Missouri, the film was done in the southeastern United States

The loss of a loved one is a tragedy, indeed, whether it be in war or at home. In this film, the death is that of a young girl who was raped and murdered. It has been months since her death, and the mother of the girl thinks the local police are not doing enough to solve this crime. Thus is the story of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” What better way to gain someone’s attention than to have the news on a billboard. The attention it brings is both wanted and unwanted.

Frances McDormand (remember “Fargo?”) plays the mother, Mildred,  and  Woody Harrelson plays Willoughby, the Ebbing Police Chief. Sam Rockwell is the Deputy, Dixon, while John Hawkes is Charlie, Mildred’s former husband, and Samara Weaving is Penelope, Charlie’s newest girlfriend. Abbie Cornish plays the Police Chief’s wife, Anne, and Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) is James, a friend of Mildred’s. Lucas Hedges is Robbie, Mildred’s remaining child. This is the cast that works together or purposely is separate for various reason, from each other. Truths come out and reasoning goes in many directions.

The film begins with Mildred getting the idea of buying space on three billboards on the outskirts of town. The message is clear---the police are to blame for the slowness of the investigation, especially the Chief. From that point on, the billboards take on a life of their own, from announcing information to being defaced and other things. Mildred bears the burden of awakening this town to what is going on around them. What turns into a problem, though, is that Mildred did not tell her son, Robbie, about the billboards and he is teased at school. Friends come forward to help, while others fade away. The police department is the most affected and scrutiny is on them all the time now. We meet the citizens of the town, and follow Mildred while she goes to the dentist (not your usual visit) and what is happening in the homes of the Police Chief and Deputy. Profanity is the name of the game in this town, and one wonders who sits up nights inventing the language. Mildred’s journey is hazardous, but she is determined to find a murderer. The pieces of the puzzle are there, How to put them together?

It is close to Oscar time and Frances McDormand is a candidate for a nomination for Best Actress, along with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Sam Rockwell in his role of Dixon. A nod for Best Film and a nod to Martin McDonagh for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, too. The actors seem to inhabit their roles as either a mother in mourning, a frustrated deputy or a police chief with no leads in the case.

The atmosphere of a small town on the brink of nowhere is always present. The local diner, pick-up trucks everywhere, beautiful sunsets on a lonely countryside and you sense that if something wasn’t done to stir things up, the town and its secrets would slide into nothingness.  If only the billboards could speak.

Copyright 2017 Marie Asner