Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

Frances McDormand
Sam Rockwell
Woody Harrelson
Martin McDonagh, Writer/Director 

In order to stay ‘with it,’ to be hep and all, I updated my invention – TheSound of Music syndrome – to the Avatar syndrome. 

Here it is:  Sometimes a movie is so hyped that a several things happen.  First, said movie cannot live up to the hype, no matter how good it is.  Second, people cannot/will not say what they really think of that over-hyped movie for fear of seeming ignorant or uncool.  Third, a moviegoer’s soaring expectations can lead to disappointment.

I discovered this phenomenon in 1965 with the huge letdown of The Sound of Music.  Anticipation ‘way too high!  I remember watching Julie Andrews grinning and twirling and singing to the sky, and thinking what the heck?!  How’d I get suckered into this?

Not that The Sound of Music is bad.  It’s not!  It’s good.  It’s just not that good.  Come on, admit it!  Do you want to watch it again and again?  Did you think about it for days after?

Same with Avatar.  3D!  Hooray!  Blue!  OMG!  But does it live?  Tell the truth. 

So, I tried to keep my expectations in check with Three Billboards, in order to avoid the syndrome.  All the hype.  All the accolades.  Be careful!  Don’t get your hopes up too high.

 And let me just say, Three Billboards is good.  It’s really very, very good.  You should see it.  Frances McDormand is just as you’d expect – awesome – steely and full of resolve.  Sam Rockwell – yep – irresistible.  

Woody Harrelson – solid, as always.  Love that guy. 

These characters, the main players, are interesting and fun to watch, thanks to Martin McDonagh’s writing.  The supporting players are excellent too.  Be sure to look for Sally Martin as Momma Dixon.

The story is engaging almost all the way through.  I left the theater with a question mark though, rather than that sense of satisfaction that comes not only with the resolution I wanted, but also with a resolution I hadn’t counted on.

I don’t have to have it my way, but this story began to search for an ending that didn’t come naturally.  And so we trail along with one lovely character arc for Deputy Dixon (Rockwell) and ennui for the rest.

Or maybe that’s the point.  I can be a little slow on the uptake.

8 out of 10 Whiskers


Six Degrees

Frances McDormand in Three Billboards 
1.  Frances McDormand in Chattahoochie with Gary Oldman
2.  Gary Oldman in Criminal Law with Kevin Bacon


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