Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Let me begin by saying: just because I think this movie kinda sucks doesn't mean you have to think it kinda sucks. BUT also, don't pretend it's great just because everyone else thinks it's great. Because ultimately, it does kinda suck.
The movie follows a mother (McDormand) who, after months pass without an arrest in her daughter's murder, makes a bold move and rents three billboards outside her home that send a contentious message to the town's chief of police (Harrelson). When his partner (Rockwell), a hot head racist cop known for torture and corruption, gets involved, the battle is intensified, turning most of the town against the police and each other.
This movie won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, Best Actress (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell) and Best Screenplay (McDonagh), so I was ready to be blown away.
And I really wanted to be blown away.
But I really wasn't. In fact, I was pretty profoundly bummed out and like: WTF?
So, what's wrong? I mean: How could it win all those awards and get all these great reviews and have a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and Oscar nominations and still suck?
Well first, I think our standards have systematically been degraded over the years because of social media. If a video of some kid jumping off the roof of his house onto a trampoline and into his pool can get 2 million likes on YouTube, then anything’s possible.
And the Golden Globes are just another award show. Especially with the politically charged environment in Hollywood this year and at the ceremony itself, maybe a story about an unsolved rape/murder case of a young girl was just the kind of thing Golden Globe Voters wanted to champion? And I understand that too.
But I just wasn't moved by it...and I wanted to be!
Woody Harrelson is one of the greatest actors to ever do the job.
Sam Rockwell is not only a cool dude with swagger, but also a fantastic, uninhibited performer.
And Frances McDormand already has one Oscar under her belt for her performance in Fargo (1999) and is married to a Coen Brother, so I assumed she wouldn't just sign up for any bullshit script.
But her character is SO unlikeable. I mean, I get it: She's supposed to be this bad-ass woman trying to find the man who killed her daughter, but the written role itself was very 'one note' and 'on the nose' and boring.
The entire film is FILLED with Martin McDonagh's trademark trivial vulgarity, irrational violence and far-fetched antics. And characters just throw the words "fuck" and "cock" and "cunt" and "nigger" and "fag" around like it's supposed to be a joke...but it just comes off as stupid and cheap.
And I ain't P.C. I know people use these words in real life, and in drama, and if the words are motivated, then I buy it and the words have power. But in this movie it just seems like a bunch of Hollywood hot shots trying to get cheap laughs from gullible moviegoers (like me I suppose).
I think McDonagh is relying on what he did in his past works by exhibiting his trademark "wit" and "flavor", but he's putting his technique in the way of his story and blocking his own drama.
Which brings me to my second biggest gripe.
While the set up of "Three Billboards" itself is interesting, a major problem with the film that no one really talks about is: there's no plot! There's no story! No murder investigation. No leads. No mystery. No high stakes. No arc. It's just an 90+ movie-minutes watching the characters argue, and complain, and throw each other out windows, and kick one another in the balls...
And then MIRACULOUSLY, at the end of the second act, there's an Unexplainable Act of God / coincidence that could potentially solve the murder of the girl, but instead the writer runs from the opportunity to throw the audience a bone and takes us nowhere.
Again: I'm just a nobody, dumb-ass with a brand new blog. These guys are going to the Academy Awards, so WTF do I know??? But in my opinion: There's no movie there.
There's some good acting, a few good moments, and a few great scenes but when McDonagh finally has a chance to blow our minds at the end, when he's got the opportunity to give us our $16 worth of movie magic, he decides to roll the credits instead.
The movie ends on a joyless note with no redemption and no promise. Kind of a drag and a waste of an otherwise beautiful Night in San Fernando Valley.
More reviews to come. And until next time: Save The Drama 4 Your Mama.