Why Can’t You Behave? (Film Thoughts: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

3bilCritics’ consensus on ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri’ has been almost unanimous praise (a high 94% on Rotten Tomatoes) that i was expecting quite a lot from it, and was even looking forward to what they are saying is an unbeatable top-notch performance from Frances McDormand.

But honestly, I did not like the film at all. Actually, let me be clearer, I hated the movie. I did not like any of the characters at all, and resented having to spend almost two hours with them. I certainly will not be rooting for it as a film come awards season. Simply put, I did not believe a frame of the movie. The basic plot – a woman, whose daughter was raped, rents three billboards in town, to shame the chief of police (Woody Harrelson) who has not broken the case. Things don’t necessarily go her way after that, and I could tell you more, and should tell you more, but don’t really care enough about it to tell more. This is written and directed by Martin McDonagh, who comes with a Broadway pedigree, and I have liked his stuff before (‘The Pillowman’) but this just did not work for me. Perhaps ‘small town’ stories do not normally interest me to begin with. Here I just thought the story was loud ans screechy, and just not nuanced enough for me to contemplate.

And the performances. I wish I could say that I liked McDormand’s performance, but I just respect her artistic choices more than agree with them. To me, she seems to be playing the same woman in each of her films, and I am just tired of them. I do understand why others like her acting, but I just prefer more subtlety and class in my actresses. I do see Sam Rockwell achieving what is asked of his character – a dim witted brute of a policeman – and can also see people loving him here. And Woody Harrelson does well here as well, the closest thing to a sympathetic character for me in the whole film. I think that may be my biggest complaint here – I just did not like these characters, and as I mentioned earlier, resented them for wasting my time.

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