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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk (Spoiler Edition) => Topic started by: 1SO on November 21, 2017, 02:57:18 PM

Title: Three Billboards...
Post by: 1SO on November 21, 2017, 02:57:18 PM
However, I still struggle to overcome the vapid nature of the film's intent. What is the arc of these characters? Where does the story go after the film's conclusion? What do the characters learn? What do we learn?
This is easy for me. We're so used to a film with a premise like this being about vengeance, but it's actually about healing, about moving on and making peace with the fact that the dead are dead and any unresolved issues are likely to remain unresolved.


Two things that I keep coming around on.

1. How come we never learn what happened to the daughter's remains? Was she buried or cremated? Is there a plot or a final resting place? I ask that because the billboards become her memorial, and we see that with Mildred bringing fresh flowers to the billboards and her conversation with the deer.

2. Isn't it interesting how close the Billboards are to Mildred's house? And how we don't get that information until the film is almost over, when Dixon shows up with the results of the DNA test? Why do you think McDonagh did that when there could've been shots of Mildred watching the signs go up from her front porch. We could see her watching Dixon learn about them.

I don't think either of these decisions are bad, they just show McDonagh making a different type of film.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: pixote on November 21, 2017, 03:01:22 PM
I thought the proximity of the billboards to Mildred's house was clear from the early scene when Robbie (Lucas Hedges) complains about that on the drive home.

pixote
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: 1SO on November 21, 2017, 03:22:15 PM
He complains as if this route isn't the most direct, as if there's another route and she's choosing to go this way back to the house. There's still no geography showing how close the road is until that shot at the end.

Compare that to the company that owns the billboards. The camera makes sure to point out the police station directly across the street, which becomes important for many reasons.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Corndog on November 21, 2017, 03:23:02 PM
I get the healing part, but it just didn't have much of an effect on me when I saw it. It really is a movie I should have liked more, wished I would have liked more. Shame I didn't. Perhaps seeing it again, and contemplating it more it might.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: FLYmeatwad on November 21, 2017, 08:10:19 PM
I think it does have a lot of McDonagh's usual themes on display, the meaning of justice being key, but definitely picked up on the notion of healing and growth as well, which underscores everything nicely. It, unsurprisingly, feels dramatic, but I do understand the complaint about it being a little hollow on first viewing. I really loved it for the script my first time through, but hours and days after leaving the theater it grew more and more in my estimation, I hope that happens to you as well, C Dub.

One thing I noticed, and I'm sure this is a Random Movie Thoughts thing rather than an in here thing, is just how much every film I've anticipated this year has hit. 3BBs, KoaSD, Florida Project, Lady Bird, Okja, Beguiled, I've been impressed by all of these. It's rare that there's not one that would miss the mark or I'd feel, at best, just kind of okay about and, at worst, negative on, but man it has been a hell of a year.

Oh, the John Hawkes parts with his girlfriend are also great in this film.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: saltine on November 24, 2017, 05:33:19 PM
There was a shot early on from the house to the signs.

Two things bothered me :
1) With a rapist / killer still not found, the sheriff of all people leaves his two little girls alone and out of earshot on a riverbank.
2) The overheard description of the rape/murder includes the detail that the victim was set on fire then raped which seems like a strange enough way to commit that offense that there would not be two such cases. Also that guy's appearance in the gift shop leads nowhere. What was that about?

I liked the movie. Love wins out over hate.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: FLYmeatwad on November 24, 2017, 07:17:19 PM
Doesn't that kind of give McDormand more of a reason to go after him at the end? Not that she really needed it, I guess any lead at all would have gotten her to go.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Bondo on November 24, 2017, 10:58:37 PM
The best excuse I could come up with about how this guy with such a similar story ends up popping into her shop as kind of a plot head fake is that he saw her on the news and decided to go in and intimidate her in an act of rapist solidarity? It is a bit confusing. But since the film isn't ultimately a whodonit, I'm not sure it matters. Especially in the core three of McDormand, Harrelson and Rockwell it's doing so much good work in processing a situation from different perspectives, each handling a form of grief in a different way that intersects.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: 1SO on November 24, 2017, 11:01:10 PM
There was a shot early on from the house to the signs.
I've been making such a mountain of this little point I figured there was a shot I had missed


Two things bothered me :
1) With a rapist / killer still not found, the sheriff of all people leaves his two little girls alone and out of earshot on a riverbank.
The sheriff was convinced if the killer was still in town they would've found him because he would've bragged to somebody about it by now. It is still a strange way to get some private time, but I don't have kids so I just went with it.


2) The overheard description of the rape/murder includes the detail that the victim was set on fire then raped which seems like a strange enough way to commit that offense that there would not be two such cases.
I wonder if at some point this guy was supposed to be the killer. It ties into the sheriff saying this exact thing would happen and Martin McDonagh does like his symmetry. My reaction was like you and Dixon, it seemed so clearly to be the guy.


Also that guy's appearance in the gift shop leads nowhere. What was that about?
Like the guy in the bar, these scenes make for great talking points and I like that McDonagh leaves them open. Again, this could be the guy, but we don't know and we never real. That feels very real, something that happens throughout the film. Like the scene with Mildred and the deer where she's not buying into that being her daughter's spirit. Or Dixon being completely irredeemable because of his actions and then McDonagh refuses to make him less than human. The scene at the hospital with Dixon and Red isn't necessary and it doesn't humanize Dixon, but I like that McDonagh gives Red this moment and the character decides not to go big with it.

What does it say that the most heartbreaking moment of the whole film comes from Peter Dinklage in a sub-plot as off the path as the one in Fargo with Mike Yanagita?
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: pixote on November 25, 2017, 02:29:07 AM
My thoughts. (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14226.msg880318#msg880318)

pixote
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Bondo on November 25, 2017, 06:30:22 AM
Somehow they have Kerry Condon (who is a week older than me) somewhat convincingly playing a 19 year old?
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: 1SO on November 25, 2017, 07:39:47 AM
Kerry Condon plays the adult who works at the billboard rental place. The 19-year Old is played by Samara Weaving (Age 25). I’m clearing this up because I’m recommending Weaving for a Filmspot.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Bondo on November 25, 2017, 10:48:53 AM
Ah, so pixote’s use of the Dinklage quote should be “Penelope said begets?” Not Pamela?
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: pixote on November 25, 2017, 12:51:02 PM
Ah, so pixote’s use of the Dinklage quote should be “Penelope said begets?” Not Pamela?

Oops, fixed. I knew better, too.

pixote
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Will on November 26, 2017, 05:30:35 AM
I said it once and I will say it again and again: now THIS is a superhero origin story. Eat your heart out, Marvel/DC!!!
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Will on November 26, 2017, 05:42:20 AM
There was a shot early on from the house to the signs.

Two things bothered me :
1) With a rapist / killer still not found, the sheriff of all people leaves his two little girls alone and out of earshot on a riverbank.


I think the film is making a point that Willoughby doesn't care as much about the rapist as Mildred did. Or he's just under the impression that it's a one time thing. I think the whole point of the film is that men aren't as sensitive to rape as women are - there's a subplot about how Mildred was sexually abused by her ex-husband that many characters brush off.


2) Also that guy's appearance in the gift shop leads nowhere. What was that about?


I think this movie - and McDonagh's films/plays in general - follows thematic logic rather rather than narrative logic. The scene in the gift shop and the subsequent scenes with this other rapist shows that there are men who not only sexually assault women, but enjoy flaunting the fact around people. I wonder if there's any American businessman currently in power that is just like that...

(https://media.giphy.com/media/3o7buirYcmV5nSwIRW/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Corndog on November 27, 2017, 07:41:51 AM
Kerry Condon plays the adult who works at the billboard rental place. The 19-year Old is played by Samara Weaving (Age 25). I’m clearing this up because I’m recommending Weaving for a Filmspot.

I figured Weaving was Dixon's mom (who turns out to be Sandy Martin) when I saw the FYC. That would be one I could get behind, but not Weaving.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Osprey on December 23, 2017, 03:39:58 AM
Eh, one of the things that bothers me is that there's little to suggest that Willoughby isn't right . He's past the point of needing to score political points, nothing about what he says to Mildred when he explains what happened to the case is ever really challenged as being untrue.  I'm not sure what Willoughby was supposed to do differently, all of Mildred's suggestions were quite unhinged. 

There was a shot early on from the house to the signs.

Two things bothered me :
1) With a rapist / killer still not found, the sheriff of all people leaves his two little girls alone and out of earshot on a riverbank.


I think the film is making a point that Willoughby doesn't care as much about the rapist as Mildred did. Or he's just under the impression that it's a one time thing. I think the whole point of the film is that men aren't as sensitive to rape as women are - there's a subplot about how Mildred was sexually abused by her ex-husband that many characters brush off.


2) Also that guy's appearance in the gift shop leads nowhere. What was that about?


I think this movie - and McDonagh's films/plays in general - follows thematic logic rather rather than narrative logic. The scene in the gift shop and the subsequent scenes with this other rapist shows that there are men who not only sexually assault women, but enjoy flaunting the fact around people. I wonder if there's any American businessman currently in power that is just like that...

(https://media.giphy.com/media/3o7buirYcmV5nSwIRW/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: iQuanah on December 30, 2017, 12:26:57 AM
However, I still struggle to overcome the vapid nature of the film's intent. What is the arc of these characters? Where does the story go after the film's conclusion? What do the characters learn? What do we learn?
This is easy for me. We're so used to a film with a premise like this being about vengeance, but it's actually about healing, about moving on and making peace with the fact that the dead are dead and any unresolved issues are likely to remain unresolved.


Two things that I keep coming around on.

1. How come we never learn what happened to the daughter's remains? Was she buried or cremated? Is there a plot or a final resting place? I ask that because the billboards become her memorial, and we see that with Mildred bringing fresh flowers to the billboards and her conversation with the deer.

2. Isn't it interesting how close the Billboards are to Mildred's house? And how we don't get that information until the film is almost over, when Dixon shows up with the results of the DNA test? Why do you think McDonagh did that when there could've been shots of Mildred watching the signs go up from her front porch. We could see her watching Dixon learn about them.

I don't think either of these decisions are bad, they just show McDonagh making a different type of film.

I think it goes deeper than McDonagh making a different kind of film. I think the film was really about Mildred and Nixon being validated. Mildred wants to be supported as a mother who lost her daughter to murder and wants the law enforcement to continue investigating. Nixon wants to be supported as a police officer, who in spite of his poor judgement and unruly behavior, has the capacity to be a good person. By act three Nixon reads a letter from Willoughby that confirms the idea that he is a capable person who needs to grow beyond his fatal error. And Mildred, well, she gets support from Nixon (even though he's no longer a police officer at this point) in the investigation even though he comes up empty handed.

Even though the last scene appears to cut away before something critical will happen, I think the film ended perfectly. Both Mildred and Nixon have forgiven one another. Nixon has forgiven Mildred for his injuries, and Mildred has forgiven Nixon for being an investigative dingbat. As they contemplate whether or not they are going to commit murder, we the audience see for the first time a sense of peace on their faces. Essentially, the idea they are going to kill this guy because he raped and killed a girl at some point (probably while overseas) is a red herring.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: philip918 on January 08, 2018, 02:58:42 PM
Love wins out over hate.

I thought the entire point of the movie was the opposite. Two hateful, vengeful people grasping for any reason to hold onto that rage, partner up on a foolhardy and potentially murderous mission because they steadfastly refuse to let go of the past.

It made me think of Memento. No answers about her daughter's death would stop her from taking her rage out on anyone around her. She will always find a new target. No matter how tenuous.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: saltine on January 08, 2018, 04:05:17 PM
I saw the ending differently. Guess my glass is half-full! Happy New Year!
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: Teproc on January 20, 2018, 06:38:27 PM
Ctrl+F for "catholicism", come up empty, yay I'll have something to add !

Having seen In Bruges turned out to be pretty essential for my enjoyment of this film. McDonagh's starting point is that people are awful, and he works from there. Cynics make for great optimists when you scratch a little, and this is what McDonagh does in his films (well, the two I've seen anyway)... but he does start from a very dark place. The other thing at play here is McDonagh's catholicism*:  ) having grown up Catholic, I always feel at a distance from the way Americans typically depict it, which is to make it mostly about guilt. Not that this is inacurrate necessarily, butif you asked me the one word I associate the most with Catholicism and what I retained of it as a non-believer, it would be forgiveness. Anything can be forgiven to anyone ready to accept forgiveness, That's a powerful idea, and also a disturbing one. Anything, really ? Just like that ? And this is what McDonagh explores here... and I get why some people really, really don't care for what happens with Sam Rockwell's character here.

I think of the best films as being the ones that ask questions, as opposed to the ones that give answers, and I don't think Three Billboards has any answers to give. Not about Rockwell's character, and not about McDormand's character either. They are bad people and they do bad things: are those erased by a potential redemption ? Should they be, and can they be ? Do we even want them to be redeemeded ? Probably we want McDormand, because the root of her actions is one we can sympathize with, but by putting her on a parallel track with Rockwell, McDonagh questions our willingness to forgive one but not the other. It's not about their actions being on a same level (they are not), it's about the idea that forgiveness doesn't look at the gravity of the crime: it's not justice. And that's something that's worth thinking about at any rate.

Given that, I approach this as a fable, and don't worry too much about Lester Freamon not arresting Sam Rockwell on the spot (or McDormand later for that matter): that might be what would happen, but it's not what the film is about so it doesn't happen. It's remarkable how funny the film is too., McDonagh has to walk a very tight rope tonally here, and he mostly succeeds... there's probably something to be said about the way this relates to Fargo, now that I think of it. McDormand is the main link of course, but they're also connected thematically: you put any character from this film in the back of that police car with Marge Gundersen wondering how the hell they got there, but they'd actually have something to answer and that would be an interesting conversation. In Fargo the Coens look at what niceness and politeness can hide (good or bad), here no one is even close to being nice or polite, but there is humanity to be found: those scenes between McDormand and Lucas Hedges are key there, with the language they use and the way they use it.

8/10 (I think, haven't quite settled on a rating yet really)

*well I don't know if he's actually Catholic, but he's part Irish and it's all over this film so I'm assuming he at least grew up Catholic.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 22, 2018, 10:03:10 AM
I thought the proximity of the billboards to Mildred's house was clear from the early scene when Robbie (Lucas Hedges) complains about that on the drive home.

pixote

That and other things made it pretty clear to me from the begging too.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 22, 2018, 10:23:35 AM
Willoughby was pretty nice and polite. You know, when he wasn't overlooking racially motivated police brutality.
Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: jdc on March 04, 2018, 06:55:04 PM
Love wins out over hate.

I thought the entire point of the movie was the opposite. Two hateful, vengeful people grasping for any reason to hold onto that rage, partner up on a foolhardy and potentially murderous mission because they steadfastly refuse to let go of the past.

It made me think of Memento. No answers about her daughter's death would stop her from taking her rage out on anyone around her. She will always find a new target. No matter how tenuous.

Memento was the first that that came to my mind when it finished though there is a bit of a difference. Here they do actually decide to go after somebody that looks to be guilty of a similar crime wherein Memento, it ends up being more random and the person just fits what he needs to bring meaning to his life without really knowing if the person is the one he is looking for.

I liked it overall though I think they should have made Nixon a bit less cartoonish. It sort of pulls me out of the film when they are trying to just play him as both a bad cop but also a dimwit. He could have been more competent but just have an evil side to him. But then, it would make it hard to explain how the Molotov Cocktails are being thrown against the building and it is half in flames and he doesn't seem to notice until one actually goes through the window.

but those are the nitpciking things that bothered me at the time but I want to give it a rewatch

Title: Re: Three Billboards...
Post by: The Deer Hunter on March 08, 2018, 03:58:36 PM
There was a shot early on from the house to the signs.
I've been making such a mountain of this little point I figured there was a shot I had missed

Just in case you haven't rewatched it yet.

(https://i.imgur.com/NRmuyLI.jpg)

Oh, the John Hawkes parts with his girlfriend are also great in this film.

When they first talked about an ex husband i thought to myself, "John Hawkes would fit right in in a movie like this". 5 minutes later he appears.