When you start writing fiction one of the first things you learn is that even your heroic characters will need to have flaws if they are going to be interesting.In the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri everyone is flawed and that makes each character a puzzle.
There’s the courageous but grieving mother played by Francis McDormand. She’s grieving because her daughter has been murdered and raped. You want to feel sorry for this woman but her flaws make it tough. She blows up a police station, attacks her dentist, drop kicks a couple of teens she’s angry at, insults her pastor and is constantly embarrassing her son. Plenty of flaws there.
There’s the cheerful but fatalistic sheriff played by Woody Harrelson. He’s fatalistic because he is dying of cancer. You want to feel sorry for this man but his flaws make it tough. He doesn’t curb his foul mouth in front of his two little daughters, he leaves the girls unsupervised by a river to have sex with his wife, he thinks its okay to have racist men working for him, he commits suicide and you get to see the devastating impact that has on his wife, co-workers and community. Plenty of flaws there.
There’s the childlike but angry police officer played by Sam Rockwell. He’s angry because his father died when he was young and he lives with his mother who is a chain-smoking, snivelling crone. You want to feel sorry for this man but his flaws make it tough. He spouts politically incorrect insults directed at minorities, beats up a billboard salesman and throws him out a window, arrests a black woman on a bogus charge, and plots to kill a man. Plenty of flaws there.
My husband said the flawed characters in this movie were intriguing and they made him like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. I found the flawed characters in this movie sad and they made me feel unsettled.