Content warning. This film deals with sensitive topics including rape, assault, suicide, sexism, hate crime, terminal illness, and racism. As such, so does this essay. Read on at your discretion.
This essay also contains spoilers, but you shouldn’t care about that, because seriously, you shouldn’t watch this film.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri was one of the most highly-acclaimed films of 2017. It holds an aggregate rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, where one critic is quoted describing it as “one of those great films that never strikes a false note.”
Did he watch a different film than I did? The Three Billboards I watched was essentially a couple good notes drowned entirely out by a cacaphony of bad ones.
I hardly even know what to make of the overwhelming critical consensus on this film. Is mainstream criticism so insulated that it can’t criticize something that has a veneer of intelligence? Is most high-profile cinema so poorly-made that a modicum of “seriousness” is all it takes to for a film to stand out from the crowd? In either case, it reflects poorly on the Hollywood establishment here in America.
I’m not the first person to call out the film’s shortcomings, but it irritated me enough that I feel compelled to write my own take. From its unbelievably superficial understanding of social issues to its ridiculous plot conveniences, this film is so loaded with problems that it’s hard to even know where to begin.
So let’s kick things off with a brief discussion of what I didn’t hate about this film.