Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (aka 3 Billboards) review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri comes from the visionary mind of Martin McDonagh, a former playwright who brought the masterpiece ‘In Bruges’ to existence, and I’m eternally grateful to him for doing that. Unfortunately, his second follow-up (after the bizarrely uneven ‘Seven Psychopaths’) doesn’t reach that ‘In Bruges’ level and this is perfectly understandable because of my hypotheses that a person can give only ONE genius idea to the world, and the rest are only derivations to that idea. In all seriousness though, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri fails to provide that same catharsis as McDonagh’s directorial debut did, and of course I’m going to compare all his future films to ‘In Bruges’, there’s no point in denying it.
Three Billboards consists of three main parts: plotting the story, unraveling the plot, and conclusion. The first act is worthy of a genius, featuring several story threads that intertwine and communicate with each other to provide a web of narrative lines to follow for a later big reveal. Or so I’d hoped. The second part is a big letdown, since all that was built in the first part had been thrown out of the window for good. Instead of doubling down on these threads and lines as made in the first part, the second part just lets go everything built up to that point and becomes a totally different film, not caring enough to unravel the plotting in a satisfactory manner. Whether this was deliberate or not, it’s not very enjoyable for the attention of one filmgoer.
The final part is the conclusion, which Three Billboards is missing. That’s right: there is no big revelation, no sudden realization, no catharsis, no nothing; it’s just as if McDonagh threw his hands up in the air and just gave out, not caring enough to provide us with at least a fake cop out. All threads abruptly end like that one time when I had a faulty VHS cassette stopping before the plot had the chance to wrap up. And that’s exactly what Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is, a VHS that ends abruptly and offers no real satisfaction or gravitas (to an otherwise excellent first part, the plotting).
So in a way, you can treat Three Billboards like an unfinished canvas which you can provide your input and go from there. Killing off main characters (or important side characters) never works in both fiction and film, since their traits are usually populated by another, either existing – or a new character after they’re gone. Yes Game of Thrones, you’re cheating your audiences and I know it.
Finally, is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri worth your time? Yup, I’d say probably yes.