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Indyfreak's Movie Reviews (730)

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 
Coen Brothers-lite Oscar bait
2/4 stars

Frances McDormand is outstanding as the extraordinarily stubborn Mildred Hayes who is grieving her daughter's brutal rape and unsolved murder. She stirs a ruckus by renting 3 billboards (roll credits) to goad the cops into reopening the case.
The first half of the movie begins well enough. The major players are all established and while many characters are unlikable, they make sense in the film's universe. Woody Harrelson is the popular police chief; Sam Rockwell is his boorish racist lieutenant; John Hawkes is the nasty ex-husband, and Lucas Hedges is the bullied son.
As the film progresses, it shifts from a naturalistic and brutally blunt style to something more cartoony and contrived by the standards set in the film's universe. Like it's trying to be a parody of what is expected from a Coen brothers movie. Some scenes play out as if they're meant to be shocking but instead seem silly. There is one major subplot that is resolved via means one'd expect from a television melodrama.
The film is well acted despite the jumbled script and strange story turns. Again, McDormand is very good, even when doing things her character doesn't seem likely to do. So much for great actors being the product of great screenwriters.


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