Rated R
115 Minutes
Released November 10

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is a modern American folk story by a British/Irish Playwright.

This film consists of spheres of an intricate story populated with flawed colorful people intertwining and colliding with each other’s souls, provoking humor and tragedy. This is what Shakespeare was able to do that makes his work so timeless.

The story appears to be set in the Ozarks in the US, although the environment feels like the mountains of Ireland where I once lived. Even the music evoked Ireland. Social commentary is subtly stamped all over this story.

Members of each social group criticize the others and blame them for negative elements of daily life in the town.

Writer/director Martin McDonagh began his career writing radio plays.

This gave him the skills needed to write plays: dialogue and storytelling.

McDonagh’s mother was a cleaning lady and his dad a construction worker as he was growing up in London.

He spent summers with his grandparents in Ireland, so picked up a cultural feel for the area, which translates into an intuitive ability to understand the setting for this movie.

Cinematographer Carter Burwell provides images that set emotional tones that reach to our own memories and the music and sound track play a counterpoint to each step of the story, setting the tone and adding poetry to the backdrop of each scene.

McDonagh’s inspiration for this story came while he was once riding a bus in the American South.

He noticed a sign on another bus asking for help in locating the perpetrator of a crime. The characters in this movie are beautifully drawn and portrayed.

You get the feeling that Mcdonagh has fleshed out his characters and put them into a pot to boil them together into a stew.

McDonagh stated in the Q&A that followed my screening, that he wrote the role of “Mildred” specifically for Frances McDormand, knowing that she was the only one who had the strength and fierceness to play the role.

McDormand said that she channeled John Wayne to get Mildred’s feisty, perseverant quality. She did not associate with two of the characters before their scenes together were shot, in order to preserve the feeling of distance between them.

McDonagh likes to work with actors who have been in his films before, including Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abby Cornish and Zeljko Ivanek. Peter Dinklage as a Burt Reynolds wannabe is priceless – melancholy and funny at the same time.

Abby Cornish noted that the script was pure poetry and not a word needed to be changed. There was very little time for rehearsal, so the characters had to interact intuitively.

McDonagh says that he finds that outright comedy can turn to tragedy on a dime and the truth lies somewhere in the fine line in between the two. This is one of the best films of 2017.

The end of the story is the beginning of new hope.

By the way, have you found Ebbing, Missouri yet on Google Maps? That’s a trick question – it’s in a state of mind.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.

She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com