In my most recent piece for Think Christian, I wrote about Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I initially loved the movie, completely taken by the movie’s audacity and Frances McDormand’s amazing performance as Mildred Hayes.
As I chewed on it, the movie’s choppy storytelling and nihilistic humor bothered me more and more, and that was before I read Allison Willmore’s excellent piece about the film’s reprehensible use of racial violence (I link to the article in my piece below, but it bears pointing out here. You should really read it).
Still, even aware of its problems, I’m still taken by the movie and genuinely moved by some of its scenes. As I write below, there’s something of a hopeless, angry prayer at work in the film:
[The film’s humor] frustrates, in part, because despite the movie’s excesses Three Billboards manages to find some humanity in its carnage. Grace breaks into the story with a force more shocking than the film’s violence, as when a shouting match halts after the cancer-stricken Willoughby unexpectedly coughs blood onto Mildred’s face. The camera lingers on the actors, emphasizing Willoughby’s shame and Mildred’s rarely seen compassion. Her soft answer to Willoughby’s explanations–“I know, baby”–recalls the caring mother she was before someone killed that part of her.