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Three Billboards: A Story of Persistence and Hope

Chris Schmucki, '18, Staff Writer

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A murdered daughter, a furious mother, seemingly ignorant police, and three billboards. Three Billboards Out-
side Ebbing, Missouri is irate, yet one of the best films of 2017. Mildred Hayes’ (Frances McDormand) daughter’s murderer has gone uncaught, the case has gone stale, and after months of silence from the Ebbing Police Department, she is furious. She acknowledges the idea “out of sight, out of mind” has proliferated the authorities over time, reaches her tipping point, and rents out three billboards: “Raped while dying” “And still no arrests?” “How come, Chief Willoughby?” In my opinion, Mildred represents not only our inner anxieties, frustrations,
and annoyances, but our propensity to voice these sensations. She is a jump-suit wearing, short-tempered, non-stop cursing woman. But you love her. Her dialogues, especially with the police officers, are some of the funniest I have seen in a movie. As humorous as it can be, Three Billboards is not for the faint-hearted. Martin Mc- Donagh jam-packs his movie with racial slurs and profanity where I found myself just barely listening, nail-biting brutality that makes you inhale through your nose just slightly more intensely than normal, and a specific scene (the dentist appointment) where I had to look away in order to avoid losing my recently ingested popcorn and Junior Mints to the movie theatre floor.

As much as Three Billboards is vicious and energetically angry, many plot points express a great degree of sensibility. The feud created between Mildred Hayes and the Ebbing Police Department led by Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) is not the prototypical authority versus “the people” rivalry, where the cops are heartless and objective and the good citizen seeks justice. There are serious life problems and conflicts on both sides of the argument, which brings up one of the most relevant themes in the film: There are always two sides to the situation. As much as you may hate your enemy, they lead lives just as you do, and deal with problems possibly greater than yours. But maybe Three Billboards is more than a story of a heavy-hearted conflict. Maybe, despite the constant hate and sympathy, there lies something within the characters motives. One of the more tranquil scenes is where Mildred Hayes talks to a deer in a meadow. She speaks to this animal and denounces her own hope, revealing that she is completely exhausted by her anger, and is in fact more unmotivated than first thought. It’s possible that Three Billboards speaks less to our displeasures and more to our hope that our actions come from a place greater than malignity. Overall, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a touching story that brings as much intreague to the table as it does raw emotion, and cumulatively works to create a cohesive and powerful story that is more than worthy of the recognition it has earned in recent times.

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Three Billboards: A Story of Persistence and Hope