AndersonVision Best Films of 2017: #4 – THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (FOX Searchlight)


“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” isn’t the film you’re expecting. For a few weeks after seeing the movie, I wrestled with the finale. If you take the finale at face value, it’s a very pessimistic look at a woman avenging her daughter. Don’t do that. Let it sit for awhile and contemplate everything past what you’ve seen in the trailers. Think about Woody Harrelson and his family, while trying to understand what has happened. Then, approach the film again.

Things are terrible all over seems to be the underlying thought in this film. While true to a point, it’s superficial and ignores much of what “Three Billboards” is saying. Fairness and order are the concerns of children trying to make sense of the cosmic order. Well, that might be going way too big there. Let’s scale it back again. It’s not that Frances McDormand’s character doesn’t deserve answers for her daughter’s rape and death. Sometimes, the answers don’t always come.

Harrelson’s character doesn’t deserve terminal pancreatic cancer, John Hawkes doesn’t deserve to move on with his life and McDormand’s son doesn’t deserve the scrutiny he gets. But, it’s going to happen. There is a backlash slowly emerging against this film, but that was expected. Modern viewers can’t accept any worldview that takes the individual out of the equation. The notion that humor exists in shared misery and that no amount of justice will ever be truly achieved will crush them.

Rise above that and understand the need for communal sharing in the face of tragedy. There won’t always be answers, things don’t work in mysterious ways and the good guys often lose. While all of that passes, it’s about what you do while it’s happening. If that doesn’t work, then take a road trip to Idaho.


  • 1 hr and 55 minutes
  • R
  • FOX Searchlight

RELEASE DATE: 11/10/17

  • 99%
    Film Score - 99%

The Plot Thus Far

A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter’s murder when they fail to catch the culprit.

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