Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Martin McDonagh’s style reeks of the worst type of directorial mimicking to come from the post-Tarantino generation. There’s wearing your influences on your sleeves, and then there’s this. His humour equates to the lowest form of mean-spirited shock value and cheap shots (yes, Peter Dinklage is small, we get it); with his screenplay striving for comedy only through gratuitous profanity-laced dialogue, devoid of wit, or the absurdity of its violence and caricatures *oops, I mean “characters” *. Look at Sam Rockwell’s comically racist, bumbling cop and his goofy antics – oh boy, hilarious, right? At the very least, Rockwell’s performance luckily shines through as much as possible despite the material. Unfortunately for Rockwell, he’s given the worst arc in the film, because McDonagh misunderstands how redemption arcs work. Rockwell’s racist, homophobic police officer, Dixon, becomes more motivated to do his job by the end of the film. That’s it, that’s the arc. How does this redeem his bigotry, which so much focus is spent on? Some might say Willoughby’s letter is the change of heart in his character, but, if so, that is the laziest, most unconvincing development I’ve ever seen.

Any resemblance of insightful social commentary is thrown out the window (quite literally, at a point), because of the sudden comedic shifts in tone that disrespect the heavy issues at play. It can’t find a balance. For example, scenes of domestic abuse are underplayed with unnecessary jokes – haha, that 19-year-old girl Frances McDormand's ex-husband dates sure is a stupid bimbo, McDonagh wants us to feel right after McDormand had been slammed against a wall and threatened with a knife. This disgusting tonal incoherence and immaturity make me want to apologise for being so mean on The Last Jedi, and that morally ambiguous ending is nothing more than an indecisive cop-out. This is a film so sickeningly insulting that it uses cancer as a device for us to sympathise with Woody Harrelson's character. Let that sink in. This isn’t a black comedy, there’s more to black comedy than standing around and laughing at roadkill. There isn’t satirical deconstruction of the topical themes it includes here. It’s just an ugly, rancid fucking dumpster-fire of a movie.

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