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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom, United States · 2017
Rated R · 1h 55m
Director Martin McDonagh
Starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes
Genre Crime, Drama

After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, a mother makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police.

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What are people saying?

Kelsey Thomas Profile picture for Kelsey Thomas

I’m honestly not sure why this film is so highly rated. I was prepared for a Coen brothers-esque tragicomedy, so I had high hopes, but they were quickly dashed. My main issues are the film’s caricatured portrayal of rural America and its half-assed attempts to address racism. I think it could have been as effective and emotional as promised if it focused only on a mother’s grief and how that grief often turns into rage. Instead, that feature is overshadowed by a terribly developed redemption plot and a few lines that make it clear the writers thought far too highly of what they were doing (since they were actually doing nothing). It’s odd to say that a movie from 2017 hasn’t aged well in 2021, but that rings true here.

What are critics saying?


The A.V. Club by A.A. Dowd

Landing closer to Coens country, Three Billboards is more of a slow-roasting tragicomedy about grief and culpability, with higher stakes, a lower gag count, and emphasis on the tragic. But McDonagh still lives for detours and digressions, for the opportunity to stall the plot and humorously slow play a conversation.


IndieWire by Ben Croll

Not only is Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri the director’s most accomplished film yet, it’s also his most compassionate.


Time Out London by Dave Calhoun

It’s full of sharp dialogue and entertaining characters and fuelled by a wryly enlightened view of our world and how it can be at once cruel and caring. For a story built on such dark foundations, it’s weirdly reassuring. It’s also enormous fun.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

While the film continues almost throughout to generate great whoops of shocking laughter, it's the notes of genuine sorrow, compassion and contrition that resonate.


Screen International by Fionnuala Halligan

Anchored by a funny, foul-mouthed performance from McDormand, McDonagh’s daringly-structured dark comedy is rich and layered and often laugh-out-loud funny but trips over constant tonal shifts.


The Playlist by Gregory Ellwood

What immediately comes to the forefront is that McDonagh has choreographed an almost impossible feat of a brutally dark comedy that, thanks to both Rockwell and McDormand, elicits an emotional response you simply don’t see coming.


CineVue by John Bleasdale

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a multi-layered piece with such swathes of great dialogue that it will no doubt reward - if not demand - multiple viewings. It's also another item of evidence pointing toward a filmmaker getting into his stride.


The Telegraph by Robbie Collin

It all makes for soaringly satisfying viewing, yet the satisfaction comes from blistering performances and virtuosic screenwriting, and absolutely nothing else.


The Guardian by Xan Brooks

Those familiar with McDonagh’s work will be unsurprised to learn that Three Billboards is a bold and showboating affair, robustly drawn and richly written; a violent carnival of small-town American life. Yet it has a big, beating heart, even a rough-edged compassion for its brawling inhabitants.

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