Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 2017
Three billboards?! Three worn out and peeled-off billboards. Located on a deserted and rarely-taken road, outside Ebbing, Missouri (a fictional location),”that no one goes down unless they got lost or they are retards” – to cite Red Welby’s, the advertising agent, reaction towards Mildred’s intention to rent the billboards for a year! At any rate, these the billboards are to be recovered and used in the name of justice
Mildred Hayes, a heart-broken and caring mother, is uncompromisingly resolved to publicize her daughter’s case – a nineteen-year-old beauty who was “RAPED WHILE DYING” (the exact phrase on one of the three billboards) near the selfsame billboards and met her early end consequently – in order to scandalize the ones, the law-enforcers, whom she thinks is blameworthy since what they did to catch the rapist was never ever sufficient and the whole procedure was interrupted too early to meet her expectations. What she expected from Willoughby and his men – law-enforcers in this case – was to “pull blood from every man and boy in this town over the age of eight” as she oddly comments during her talk with Willoughby fifteen minutes into the film. From the beginning, as the audience, we are somehow inclined to side with her and look at things from her point of view, but her above-mentioned remarks come to us as a prod to reshape our judgments and to reflect on other possible perspectives. Mildred’s eyes are so flamed with the blood of anger that she could barely see through things regarding Angela’s (her daughter) case properly. This process of forming expectations and reforming them and then forming them anew on the part the audience essentially constructs the warp and woof of the film’s narrative as a whole
By asking questions like “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?” and “HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?” in her scandalizing billboards, she is mainly directing her rage towards William Willoughby, the sheriff of the district, who is deeply irritated by Mildred’s not very fair billboards because, as he points out during the aforementioned discussion, he thinks he did anything he could in Angela’s case “but the DNA don’t match no one who’s ever been arrested”. Having found that he got cancer and is soon to be dead, he does not reasonably feel like his reputation to be blemished by those billboards. But something, not foreshadowed, occurs that shatters our expectations as a result. About an hour into the film, after spending a joyful day with his family close to nature, chief Willoughby puts a gun to his head wrapped in a bag and pulls the trigger. Thus he put an end to his expectedly painful life, albeit not before leaving three dramatically significant letters to his wife, Mildred Hayes and his cop fella Jason Dixon. Through these letters, McDonagh, the director, ignites that process of forming and reforming expectations once more. Yet this time he goes even further to invite us to the depth of his characters’ insides in particular and then to that of the human being’s generally so as to provide us with sort of unbiased insight regarding diverse aspects of human behavior. Being disclosed, these letters seem to be a revelation of the hidden sides of the characters’, specifically in Jason’s case. In his letter to Jason, chief Willoughby allow us to see those aspects of his personality that his apparent evil side – he is notoriously known around the county for torturing persons of color (black-skinned folks) who easily flies off the handle and is foul-mouthed and almost always drunk – prevents us from considering them properly. Jason himself is moved when he finds out, reading the letter, that Willoughby thinks highly of him as he remarks (in voiceover) “I think you’ve got the makings of being a really good cop, Jason”. Having read the letter, awake from kind of hibernation, Jason is determined to listen to his inner call and be a really good guy if not a good cop since he’s got fired due to what he illegally did to Red (merely out of anger, he throws the advertising guy out of his office window) the day after Willoughby’s death
In sum, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a definitely challenge-inducing movie granted to us by Martin McDonagh, the very same McDonagh who wrote the well-known play The Pillowman. A vast array of issues is to be challenged and brought under scrutiny in McDonagh’s film as black/white and homo-/heterosexuality dichotomy, Church Establishment and the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (bear in mind how thoughtfully the number three is utilized in the film; three billboards, the three vases below each, three letters…) among many others that might have eluded my observation. There is something tricky about the English language as well when Jason, during his conversation with Mildred near the end of the film, mentions: “you need English, really, if you wanna be a cop. [short PAUSE] If you wanna be anything, really”
Written by Pouya Alipour