My journey with Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri started with its trailer. I was really interested in it and was looking forward to what seemed to be a really zany but grounded movie. The movie itself delivered in spades but also fell very short of expectations.
The movie starts out incredibly strong. It frames the town and sets up all the exposition quickly and enjoyably. There are many jokes amid a very serious subject but they all land. The movie is quirky and moves at such a quick pace that it doesn't feel like it lingers on anything for too long. The movie is so strong and sets up great characters through the second third of the movie, that when the final act starts, it jarring.
People have praised the movie for not knowing what events will transpire next. This is definitely a strength of the movie during the first two-thirds but becomes a weakness. When all the characters are still important and their next actions keep you guessing, that is when the movie really shines. When the characters have been changed and are even flatter than some of them started off as, the spontaneous direction the movie goes in comes off as desperate. This meaning, the screenwriter didn't know how to end the movie and needed a way to do it.
Another thing people praise the movie for is the characters, which I totally get. The characters are really dynamic in their portrayal and so great to watch. But this is a truly plot-driven movie, meaning that the characters and any arc you might think they have are nonexistent. The characters are just static tools to tell the story and only one of them goes through an arc because they die. Yes, all the actors did a great job portraying these tortured souls. Yes, it was fun to watch them up until the final act, but the final act kinda spits in the face of the rest of the movie.
You can describe the first three parts of the movie funny, serious, provocative. It is really fun to see the characters just go on their straight paths to the end, but then the last part of the movie happens. It takes everything interesting that the movie set into motion and kills all of it. For the screenwriter to feel good about tying up loose ends, they just have characters leave the story. They have characters just stop being important so that the movie can end in the stupidest way possible.
Overall the movie is really fun to watch until the final act. There, it loses its way and feels boring. That's too bad because up to that it was pretty good. I hope that some good comes out of this movie, but I don't think it deserves all the praise it is getting. Rent it or stream it when it comes out to those places. I can't say I will ever want to rewatch it.