Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is not a kind film, and it is not an easy one. It is thoroughly dark and more than a little sad, but has some comedic moments. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as some kind of demented moral play – a grim farce meant to explore the depths of human depravity and whether there is any potential for absolution. As such, the film sets up a horrible situation, doubles down a few times, and then challenges the spectator. Along the way, the performances are outstanding, and though some of the characters feel stereotypical or one-dimensional, that’s the point. Three Billboards is a poignant look at despair and hope, hatred and forgiveness, and prejudice and love.
Remember how Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a James Franco-laden disaster with John Lithgow wandering around forgetting everything and apes rampaged over the Golden Gate bridge being attacked by police helicopters? How far we’ve come. This Planet of the Apes reboot may be one of the most artistically successful reboots of a beloved franchise in the history of Hollywood, and it is almost entirely on the strength of the final two films – first with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and now with War for the Planet of the Apes.
In her directorial debut, Kelly Fremon Craig has nailed the awkward world of teenage angst in The Edge of Seventeen. Starring Academy Award Nominee Hailee Steinfeld, this coming-of-age film showcases some incredible acting talent, a real command of language, a distinctive comedic voice, and strong plotting elements. Though that peculiar brand of teenage ennui is apparent, there is an undeniable emotion and heart at the core of this story. Sometimes sad and angry, other times exalted and jubilant – and then right back to sad and angry, The Edge of Seventeen belongs right beside the classic coming-of-age films for portraying the challenge of growing up with practically perfect execution.