Copyright: Public Domain / Used With Permission

From our special film correspondent, Esteban DeGolf:

Well, since I’ve already committed heresy by dissing “Darkest Hour”, let me move on to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. Despite being nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture I contend that this is a rather bad movie, dreary, awful even. Why do I have such a disparate opinion compared to the illuminati you ask. Well, let me explain:
First, to give credit where credit is due, the idea behind the movie was clever and the conflict between the grieving mother versus the police chief dying of cancer made things very interesting. Also, the movie made great use of the same sort of quirky, small town in the middle of nowhere vibe that helped make “Fargo” a hit.

That said, I found the movie depressing. The tone and message of the movie were very dark and ugly. The overuse of profanity bordered on bizarre. I’m a bit of a potty mouth, so I’m not put off by bad words, even the very bad ones (f**k, asshole, s**t, etc.). I’m also not triggered by the words that aren’t supposed to be used any more (such as nigger or c**t, which by the way both make an appearance in Three Billboards). FYI, I find the practice of using terms such as “the N word” absurd and really resist this silly PC trend and will also say “Voldemort” on occasion ( my apologies if I should have typed “The N word” or “The N Word”).

The use of the term “f**k” would have seemed heavy handed in a movie about mobsters, gang bangers or soldiers under heavy fire. And there is a scene where the main character is called a “c**t” at the breakfast table by her teenage son – twice, in fact. In another scene the police chief is arranging a picnic game to keep his two very young daughters busy so he and his wife can slip away for some romance. He tells them the rules include that “no one can set foot off this God damn blanket” (I’m working from memory, so pardon me if I got the quote slightly wrong, and I believe he dropped two “God damns” in the scene). Maybe I’m out of touch, but using that language with 4 year olds just seems peculiar.

The movie also makes a point to impugn cops and religion. The police chief says (again from memory, so don’t hang me on the exact wording) “if we fired every racist cop there would only be a few left and they’d be homophobes”. The cop who we are led to believe is racist, or the most racist, actually viciously assaults a white man toward the end of the movie. The writers pull off a neat twofer by impugning religion and America in one short scene. A priest tries to get the grieving mother to remove the offending billboards and she tells him he is guilty by association since other priests were pedophiles. She backs this argument up by claiming that sometime in the past the U.S. government used similar reasoning on gang members: if you’re in a gang and another gang member murders someone, you’re guilty. I freely admit that I don’t know the details of the legislation in question or the arguments pro and con, but I suspect that this isn’t a balanced assessment.

One other example of how dark the movie is – we are told that the town generally sides with the police chief and disapproves of the billboards. So, when our protagonist goes to the dentist she gets a very chilly reception. So chilly in fact, that he tries to drill a tooth without anaesthetic. That scene definitely lost me – seriously, a dentist would torture a grieving mother whose daughter was “raped while dying” over billboards on a road we were told no one uses anymore.

So why did critics wet themselves over this dreary mess? The only explanation I can come up with is that it defecates on all the things that liberal elites deplore – Middle America, police, religion, etc. Seriously, I don’t know how else to explain it. I don’t really like to bring politics into things, but I find that when it comes to movies and television I find it hard to avoid. I’ve been searching for a movie review website that will tell me “this is a pretty good SciFi movie but if you get PO’d by preaching about Global Warming and 58 genders you may want to give it a miss”. Perhaps I need to start one – “Movie Reviews by an Old Fart” perhaps.