Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ★★★

If McDonagh wanted to say something incisive about race or police brutality here, he failed miserably. But both are so awkwardly peripheral to this story that I have to imagine that wasn't his intent. What this actually feels like is a film about grief and justice and how much we need of either to feel satisfied.

It's pitch-black and propulsive, and lands with pleasing ambiguity. Frances McDormand is Frances McDormand, which is more than any of us deserve. But there's also a dozen moments that feel unnecessary or completely misjudged—Peter Dinklage is woefully underused (and his whole character seems undercooked); two female characters with nothing to do but be young and stupid; another fucking mystical deer epiphany. It's uneven and not particularly focused, and while there are some smart criticisms out there (Melissa Tamminga's in particular), I don't think it's as abhorrent as it's being made out to be.

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