Five Lines on Three Billboards

  1. The Golden Globe-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri has rightly earned its many shots on goal at the upcoming Oscars – written and directed by Martin McDonagh, it is a smart, poignant film featuring inspired performances by the likes of Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson, two of their generation’s finest screen actors.
  2. That’s not to say ‘Three Billboards’ – the literal transformation of a grieving mother’s (McDormand) rage at the local police department’s failure to catch her daughter’s killer – doesn’t have some curious little flaws: these include a bumpy early start that plunges one into dread this will be two hours wallowing in cinematographic cliché and negativity; the cast’s ongoing challenge in finding their meter with an Ozark hill country accent; a gratuitous, RICO-inspired cheap shot at the Catholic Church; and a local sheriff’s (Harrelson) wife who is inexplicably much younger and more Australian than he.

    Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand star in Three Billboards

  3. But all that is washed away by the gratifying and unexpected grace notes of mercy and redemption that emerge as the film trundles on to a bristling pace.
  4. Hollywood serves up plenty of fare shrouded in the kind of darkness that attends the foul crime at the heart of this story, but far rarer is the vehicle like “Billboards” that dares to explore humankind’s outer spiritual reaches.
  5. A theme which, for those paying close attention to the reading material favored by Ebbing’s local advertising executive, will not be a surprise (A-ha! … now I get this movie): our adman’s author of choice is Flannery O’Connor of Southern Gothic fame, the sainted Andalusian invalid whose haunting, mesmerizing stories of many an Ebbing-like town show us that it is in the grotesque where we often meet the divine.
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About the Contributor

Michael Fleming

Michael Fleming

Wilmington resident Michael Fleming is a marketing and communications executive.

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