Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri left me in a weird spot. Which is true with a lot of people. I found it problematic that I was being asked to sympathize with Jason Dixon. Dude was the embodiment of awful cops. And it seemed the movie was, at times, trying to posit Dixon as the victim. “His father died and he was angry. His mom is a racist, so he just doesn’t know better. He wants to be a detective and do good things! Look, he was burned then beat up, now doesn’t that mean we can like him now?”
Compare Dixon’s portrayal to Danny Vinyard of American History X. Vinyard is a grade-A racist, neo-Nazi who eventually goes to jail for murdering a black man. While in prison, he’s raped by other neo-Nazis. Over a period of time, we watch Vinyard become friends with Lamont, a black inmate. By the time Vinyard leaves prisons, he’s no longer the guy he was. We then follow him as he goes back to his old life and tries to make amends and save his brother, who’s gone down a similar path.
Where Three Billboards has various people defending Dixon and at times seemingly tries to make Dixon endearing, American History X avoids any of that with Vinyard. No one defends him. No one pities him. His actions are his actions and the movie frames him as a monster. Then observes as that monster searches for and discovers humanity.
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Initially, that’s what I wish Three Billboards would have done. And would have been my major criticism of Three Billboards. But that criticism didn’t last long. That’s because, in looking to explain the ending of Three Billboards, I discovered that almost every character in the movie has a similar sympathetic/unsympathetic duality about them.
Starting with the ending
At the end of Three Bullboards, we’re left with Mildred and Dixon in a car, traveling to Idaho to maybe murder the man they had thought raped and murdered Mildred’s daughter but apparently didn’t. We’re left with them sharing that they’re not sure they actually want to go through with it. That they’ll figure it out when they get there.
Right away, what stands out is that we have two morally ambiguous characters left to decide if they will or will not murder a man who may be or may not be guilty of a crime. A man who is 100% a jerk but may be 100% innocent of anything more serious than that.
Mildred is morally ambiguous. She’s grieving mother, which is endearing. But she’s also rude and psychotic enough to have molotov cocktailed the police station.
Dixon is morally ambiguous. He was a racist cop who thought himself above the law and was violent and a slob and awful. But then he’s also a mama’s boy, is grieving his father, grieving Willoughby, and humbled from injury and a dark night of the soul.
And the man they’re going to kill is morally ambiguous. He’s a US soldier who has served and served, it would seem, with distinction. That’s noble. But he’s also stalked Mildred, threatened her, hinted that he’s the one who killed the daughter, and talked about raping a girl and setting her on fire, then beat up Dixon. So a god damn lunatic.
None of this is just happy coincidence—maybe if we were in Creative Writing 101. But professional writers structure narratives how they do for a reason. They utilize motif, characterization, plot, and escalation, to build to a purpose. In this case, that purpose appears to be leaving us, the viewers, with the question of not only what we think Mildred and Dixon will do but also what we think they should do, given the information we have.
The thing about endings
The thing about endings is that they tend to encapsulate the entirety of the movie. Lion King is a great example of this. There’s a micro theme and a macro theme. The micro being Simba overcoming his past by confronting Scar, confronting his secret, and taking his rightful place in as king. Everything that happens in the story serves the singular purpose of building to that internal and external confrontation. While on the macro level, the movie moves through the concept of the circle of life.
MUFASA: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures. From the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.
SIMBA: But, dad, don’t we eat the antelope.
MUFASA: Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great circle of life.
The movie opens with the song “The Circle of Life” and the birth of Simba, moves through his childhood, adolescence, and finally to his adulthood, when we get, once again the song “The Circle of Life” and the birth of Simba’s child. That cyclical structure—beginning and ending with the same song/scene—isn’t just cute. It’s thematically relevant as it shows not only how repetitious the world is but how dependent it is on repetition. When Scar disrespected the circle of life by killing Mufasa and exiling Simba the results were disastrous. The pride lands went to ruins. Drought. Famine. It’s only when order was restored with Simba’s return that the world returned to good health.
The movie ends the way it does because it completes the thematic journey and drives home the point about circular nature of things.
This is common common common practice in theme-driven movies and books and poems. By looking at the end of a story, you can typically draw conclusions about what the rest of the story was aiming for.
So what’s that mean about Three Billboards?
This is where things get pretty interesting. If everything at the end is morally ambiguous, does that mean the rest of the movie is about moral ambiguity?
I’ll give you a moment…
Let’s look at the other characters.
Police chief of Ebbing. Definitely morally ambiguous. Wonderful father. Husband. By all accounts, a well-loved member of the community. But he protected Dixon who is not only racist but apparently assaulted a black man in custody. And there’s definitely ambiguity in his suicide. On the one hand, he didn’t prolong his own suffering or that of his family. On the other hand, what religious implications are there to that? And he also, it could be argued, abandoned his family when he could have had how much more time with them?
Willoughby’s wife. A happy wife and mother. Moments of moral ambiguity are relatively small. Leaves her daughters, alone, near a river, to go off and sleep with her husband. Is rude to Mildred when bringing Mildred Willoughby’s post-suicide letter, even though Anne should know (we assume she’d read the letter) that Willougby had no hard feelings towards Mildred for the signs as he wrote in the letter that it didn’t bother him at all.
Mildred’s ex-husband. Abusive guy who walked out on his family for a younger woman. But a police officer and a father mourning the loss of his daughter. And I think there’s part of everyone who understands that Mildred may not have been the easiest person to love or live with or be married to, so in a way we might understand divorce…though not the abuse or the cheating.
Charlie’s girlfriend. She’s a young girl who means well but comes off as kind of dumb but not dumb. But she cheated with a married man.
Mildred and Charlie’s daughter. A victim of rape and murder. In her brief screen time she’s shown to be a firecracker, just like Mildred. She’s kind of whiney, and when she’s told she can’t take the car her immediate reaction is to call her mom the B Then it turned out Angela was spending time with her father without telling Mildred (which some would support and others wouldn’t, but that’s what makes it morally ambiguous). Then when Mildred talks about Charlie having beat her up the response by Angela is to say, “Which we’ve only got your word about.” Yeesh. Before storming out of the house to walk to wherever she was going, Angela declares she hopes she’s raped, just so Mildred feels bad. Definitely morally ambiguous.
Mildred and Charlie’s son. Loves his mom, but also get frustrated at his mom (which is understandable). Defends his mom from his dad, but also goes so far as to put a knife to his dad’s throat
James (Peter Dinklage)
Nice guy. Has romantic intentions towards Mildred. Provides an alibi for Mildred after the police department bombing. But he leverages that alibi into getting Mildred to go on a date with him. When Mildred is unhappy on the date, James makes a scene, publicly shaming Mildred. Sure, Mildred wasn’t a great date…but that’s who she is. I’m sure people would defend James’s outburst, but the morally superior thing to do would have been to just politely leave.
Managed the billboards. Like Anne, he’s someone else who had more good than bad. On the good side of things, he called out Dixon for being a jerk and helped Mildred as best he could. Post-being attacked by Dixon, Red’s kind enough to help Dixon in the hospital. Which is an act of kindness that leaves Dixon in tears. When it comes to crossing into that negative realm, it could be said that Red didn’t really help Mildred, only did his job. So was morally neutral, there. And that he actually taunted a police officer to that officer’s face. People who respect authority would argue, I think, no matter what Dixon was accused of, that Red had crossed the line by disrespecting Dixon like that.
Helped put the billboards up. Similar to Red and Anne. Jerome helped Mildred out by bringing the extra copy of the billboard copy after they had been burned. Not much in the bad area. He, like Red, also disrespected Dixon. And Jerome didn’t rush to help when Dixon was getting beat up by the soldier. Though Jerome does tell the soldier that Dixon’s police, ending the assault.
Mildred’s friend. Supports Mildred. But does get arrested for possession of marijuana. Which is, for many people, a non-issue. But in conservative areas like Idaho…marijuana would still be a moral no-no.
Dixon’s mom. A loving mother who is also a racist drunk.
As you can see, some of these are more complicated than others. That mostly has to do with their importance to the story. Willoughby is more complex than Robbie. Angela is more complex than Red. James is more complex than Denise.
Almost every character that has a speaking scene ends up having some degree of moral ambiguity about them. Which isn’t really typical. They didn’t have to have Robbie bring a knife to the dad’s throat. He could have just said, “Dad! Stop!” They didn’t have to make Angela so aggressive. They didn’t have to make Dixon’s mother a racist. Nor did it have to be Anne who brought Mildred the letter, acting cold. Jerome didn’t have to be the one who brought the billboard material to Mildred, nor did he have to be the one who was at the bar when Dixon got beat up. The dentist didn’t have to threaten Mildred out of a love for Willoughby. Nor did the media have to be shown supporting Mildred then shown speculating about her irresponsibly. There’s a reason all of these things were included.
Given what we know about the ending, and given what we know about how endings help explain the intention behind the plot choices as a whole…the conclusion would then be that these choices were made because they added to the moral ambiguity that’s the film’s central theme.
You may have noticed that I left one character out. Abercrombie. He’s the man who takes over for Willoughby, the new police chief of Ebbing, Missouri. Despite how lovely Willoughby was as a husband and father…if you judge the health of the department by its worse officer then Willoughby had done a questionable job as chief. At best, he kept on an officer who didn’t care about the rule of law, much less the community. At worst, he protected a racist with an anger issue who abused his power.
So when Abercrombie shows up and fires Dixon first thing—wow. Doesn’t Abercrombie look like a hero?
There isn’t, it seems, anything morally ambiguous about that.
What else does Abercrombie do? He questions Mildred and James about the police department bombing. He’s new in town, so might not realize it was 100% Mildred. Or maybe he does and him letting them go is his moral ambiguity?
What else does he do?
Oh yeah. He’s the one that tells Dixon that the guy Dixon thinks raped and murdered Angela is actually innocent.
ABERCROMBIE: There’s no match to the DNA. No matches to another other crimes of this nature. To any crimes at all, in fact. And his record is clean. Maybe he was just bragging? At the time of Angela’s death, he wasn’t even in the country. I’ve seen his records of entry and exit to the states, and I’ve spoken to his commanding officer. He wasn’t in the country, Dixon. He ain’t our guy.
DIXON: Where was he?
ABERCROMBIE: That’s classified information.
DIXON: Aw come on man!
ABERCROMBIE: If the guy has a commanding officer. And if the guy got back to the country nine months ago. And if the country where he was was classified. Which country do you think he was in? I’ll give you a clue. It was sandy. [After Dixon’s response] All you need to know is he didn’t do anything to Angela Hayes. So. We’re going to keep looking.
On the surface, it seems like this suspected rapist and murderer is innocent. We, as viewers, are inclined to believe Abercrombie because he’s the guy who finally had a decent enough conscious to fire Dixon. So he must be honest, right?
But if we know that every character has some moral ambiguity about them…and firing Dixon certainly wasn’t morally ambiguous, and not arresting Mildred wasn’t morally ambiguous…that leaves the explanation of the soldier’s innocence. Either that’s not morally ambiguous either…meaning that Abercrombie is a serious outlier in a movie that doesn’t really have an outlier…Or there’s a moral ambiguity here.
What would that be?
The set up is there, right? This guy wasn’t just your average military grunt who served a tour and came home. The details of his service are classified. Add that in with Abercrombie speaking directly to the commanding officer. Which is either really good due diligence on the part of Abercrombie…or it means the commanding officer called Abercrombie. “He wasn’t in the country.” “His record is clean.” “There’s no DNA match. No match to other crimes of this nature. To no crimes at all.” That doesn’t sound like an assertion of fact, that sounds like someone repeating what they were told to say.
This would mean that Abercrombie is a good enough guy to fire Dixon, but the kind of guy who respects chain of command. He wouldn’t be the first officer who was told to drop investigating someone for a serious crime just because that person has connections.
This not only fits in with the theme of the movie—we’re all capable of good and bad—but fits in with the portrayal of police in this movie: none are perfect.
You may be skeptical, but remember. Angela was killed seven months ago. And Abercrombie, despite saying the soldier wasn’t in the country then, let’s slip that the soldier “got back to the country NINE months ago.”
So do they kill him?
While the movie seemingly leaves it open to interpretation, I think we have to assume yes. That’s because there’s no other reason to include the scene where the soldier visits the gift shop and threatens Mildred.
That scene could be explained by, “It makes us think Dixon will be right, but only serves to set up the twist that the guy is innocent.” Which is true! Though we’ll say “innocent” as we just kind of proved the guy definitely did it and Abercrombie lied.
See, Mildred doesn’t know the guy Dixon thinks did it is the same guy that came into the store. As far as she’s aware they’re two separate people. Meaning that gift shop confrontation is a time bomb. The moment they get to Idaho and Mildred lays eyes on the guy, she’ll become convinced he’s the one because it adds up in her head. He’s the one who stalked her. He’s the one who brought up having did it not only to her but then again when Dixon overheard. Maybe he is just bragging and imagines himself as the one doing it, thinking there won’t be any payback? Maybe he is innocent. But Mildred won’t care. Enough signs point to “yes” that she will absolutely kill him.
Well written … moral ambiguity … yes indeed
Thank you, Rich!
Excellent summary and description. Good job! Opened my eyes
Chris, I never and I mean this never read these kind of comments or reviews on movies explained ect
1) after literally just watching the movie and enjoying how different and unique it was I did a random google.
2) with no comparison which is hardly a comment of praise I really enjoyed and appreciated your theory and thoughts as outlined in your feedback to the Movie your comments were really thought provoking and actually added to my thoughts on the movie as a whole resulting in me enjoying your theory just as much.
Again Chris excellent review and well done.
From New Zealand.
Thank you, Mark! Appreciate the kind words. That kind of add-on to the movie experience is what we’re looking to provide. How did you feel about the movie, overall?
Actually, Angela died 9 months ago (7 months + 2 months the billboards has been put on the place), which makes this story get more suitable.
That would make the story get more suitable! It’s been a year now since I’ve seen the movie. I should re-watch and come back to this. Thank you!
Just watched the movie. Your review was excellent and helped me appreciate the movie even more and to all it’s depths. Thank you.
It was said that the police have done nothing for seven months. I assume the investigation has been stalled seven months and it is untold how long the police worked on the case prior.
Interesting. My take on the whole movie was that it was about learning to let go of hate and anger over things you cannot change, before they destroy you as well. Dixon was given this message in Willoughby’s letter and Mildred was given it via Penelope’s bookmark. I assumed that they did *not* kill the rapist at the end, because they were both learning that they had to stop letting anger and revenge drive their life.
I agree James. Like you, I thought the takeaway message for me was hate begets hate whatever the subject. People become consumed with negative and destructive emotions and lose all common sense.
Racism was an underlying theme in this movie and there is no logical or rational reason for racism – it is just hating other people for no other reason than they don’t look like you.
Thank you. This helped me clarify and see things in a new way about the movie. Keep up the good work.
What’s the point of writing about moral ambiguity of every character? Usually every character is morally ambiguous..you can’t interpret the new police chief words
.may b that’s the way he talks..in negations…
Your review is why I despite the expectations Hollywood has given us of characters being simply either good or bad. Human beings are not that simple. It’s why I prefer independent cinema, where characters are complex, and bad guys do good things, and good women do bad things. Life is much more complex than your wish for moral simplicity will allow. I loved Three Billboards for its splendid performances, and for the complexity of its characters. Time to grow up and enter the adult world, if you want to be taken seriously as a film critic.
I thought Mildred said that it had been 7 months since she heard from the police, not 7 months since Angela was killed?
Which would indicate that it had been at least a year, as they would spend a couple of months on a murder case, surely.
Thx for all the discussion. Just finished watching it last night and I thought I heard Mildred say in the car as they were driving:
“Well he paid for them”. Referring to Willoughby! Did I hear wrong?
Is there part 2 story…
The hate begets hate is definitely part of the movie. However, when Mildred walked over to the dinner table with Charlie and Penelope she had hate in her heart and evil intentions, but Penelope’s innocence and even Charlie’s reticence for confrontation eased Mildred’s hate. Another was with Robbie and Dixon, where Robbie had every right to not forgive Dixon and to continue the hate, but instead accepted Dixon’s forgiveness by offering the orange juice.
Had been thinking about the duality of the character personalities for awhile, but couldn’t put it together… so thank you Chris…. was killing my brain cells on this one. Your moral ambiguity clarification actually offers a clear conclusion that the soldier raped Angela and was likely killed by Mildred and Dixon. Of course, we’ll never know for sure. 🙂
I hate reading articles from people who think they’re smarter than they are. Did you look up the word ambiguous and think that you could show everyone how smart you are?
Huge waste of time, I hope you have another way to earn money.
MrRight…let go of the hate. Makes you look/sound like an idiot.
If you hate reading such articles, don’t read them, but don’t bash the author for providing a thoughtful analysis.
Name a movie that does not make characters moraly ambiguous at some level. Just a few. I mean you are describing some things that are not enlightling (yes my English sucks sorry)
You are kidding right? A lot of superheroes are morally perfection, by western standards.
Of course, there is no absolute moral perfection because morality is relative to culture. But that’s another matter.
Great commentary and ideas.
The guy from Idaho is the killer. Why the hell would he go into a store and harass Mildred that way, as well as, be in a bar bragging about it… which Dixon was as positive as well as Mildred that he was the guy… and don’t forget Willoughby’s saying that the only clues they had were from someone in jail blabing or some asshole out at a bar blabbing.
In my opinion, the Redneck Dixon brought his gun to finish it… as well as put his badge on the desk.
For the two of them who hated each other the whole movie to be the ones who were 100% convinced that that was their guy, then I think we can conclude that they went there and took care of business.
Tom, I’ve seen it twice & was still having hard time till I read your thoughts!! I now believe you are correct… they kill him & he is guilty.
Prior to your comment, I figured anger dissipated & they did not.
Yes, I thought so too.. Also, why does Abercrombie praise Dixon for scratching some guys face off in order to get his DNA (you did real good!) if Dixon is no longer an officer there and there was no DNA match? Makes no sense. Then Abercrombie says the guy is a clean and a veteran… so why would it be good to scratch is face off in a bar?! My theory is Abercrombie is covering as well and Dixon gives up because he knows that so he and Mildred go for vigilante justice.
Right? That was pretty conflicting.
I really liked your explanations. Also, as you say, the main words are definitely “moral ambiguity”. Thank you!
Great article. Never thought of that!
Hi Chris, i was thinking almost the same thing after I finished watching the movie.. greetings from Croatia
I disagree– I don’t think they killed the guy. I’ve seen the movie three times because it’s so freaking good and well-acted. Easily my favorite script of that year, for many of the reasons you point out.
One of the main things great movies do is show character growth. That’s how we get to know them and at the end root for them (for most films). At the end of Three Billboards we’re rooting for Mildred and Dixon for what they’ve been through as individuals and now together. We’re not rooting for them as Angels of Vengeance, we’re rooting for them as Human Beings.
If they were going to kill the guy the movie would have ended on a stronger note– a smirk to the audience. “Yeah, of COURSE we are.” Because of the very ambiguity you discuss, they are weaker in the final scene than they were in the final third of the film. The anger is mostly spent, they have a long drive for the anger to continue to cool, and they are going to talk like humans to each other while driving. One or the other (or both) will have lost the desire to continue the cycle of violence. It will fizzle out, they’ll turn around and go home, and they will be better people for their overall experiences.
Loved Chirs’s review and I love your take on the ending even more!
I don’t know if I remember correctly but I think Dixon noted down number plate of “could be victim’s friend” who was in the bar and that is why DNA didn’t match. Just help me out because it’s bugging me.
It’s not really got anything to do with the number plate at that part.
Whether they have a name or not. Suspect A can still be tested to dna found on body. So they may not have the right name but the dna would be a match.
Also. It is the actual guys car. Dixon says he got the guys number plate. Not his friends. 🙂
Wow! It answered pretty much every question I had about the movie. Thanks
Very interesting ideas. I love the part about Lion King, so true! Thanks for writing, i thoroughly enjoyed reading it …i too like to think when they got there and she saw it was him they took him out!
The big question is, will she get the $7 he owes her before she kills him?
I just watched the movie, was left in a pondering mood and found your comments gave me more things on which to ponder and come to my own conclusions. So I thank you for that. I do enjoy a film that makes you think ?
Excellent analysis. Moral ambiguity throughout and we’re suddenly supposed to accept that Abercrombie is a hero? No way. The scumbag from Idaho is our man.
I just watched the movie and I agree with you. Mildred doesn’t know at the end of the movie that it’s the same guy who threatened her. I believe she takes one look at him and that’s it. Thank you for a great commentary.
I enjoyed the movie, I like characters and storylines that make you think but I am not so much a fan of the viewer decide ending. But that’s just me.
Abercrombie watched a known racist piece of shit police officer throw a man out of the window and all he did was fire him? That’s moral ambiguity right there. Lenient punishment because the guy is a cop vs. carrying out the law he is paid to protect.
Thank you. Loved reading this after watching the movie.
Some interesting takes in the comments too, love the moral ambiguity that comes with the ending; by letting go of anger they are allowing a rapist to live freely or by killing another human they’re ridding the world of a rapist.
& there’s still a question mark over his innocence…
This is great. The only thing I don’t agree with is the fact Angela was killed seven months ago and he got back into the country nine months ago.
By the time Dixon is in the hospital another month or so has already passed. Making the murder eight months ago.
By the time he gets out and then I’m guessing is well enough to go to the bar. It is then nine months ago.
Also I’m sure there is a reference at some point (I sure where. I think it’s when Dixon is talking to Mildred at the Swings) that the murder was ten months ago. I remember clocking that as I thought it was seven then realised he had to have time healing from his wounds.
Sorry for the correction. I just get really annoyed when something is wrong. Maybe I’m wrong and you could explain. 🙂
It ends in such an ambiguous manner because now the movie is ‘saying’ to the audience ‘now you decide’. To reach a conclusion of our own about whether they will murder the man from Idaho we are forced to weigh up everything that has gone before.
Did Ma Dixon die? Was that a rat on her lap?
So many red herrings but brilliant.
To me, the ending has more to do with closure…or lack of closure in this case. Mildred spends the entire movie looking for closure and never gets it. Sometimes we don’t get closure, and this ending shows that by not providing closure for the audience. By not providing closure, the viewer is put in Mildred’s place.
Sorry to resurrect this but only just seen this as it is out on Prime.
I figured that the Idaho man was actually the killer and Abercrombie confirms this when he says ‘all you need to know is that he didn’t do nothing to Angela Hayes’. A double negative. Surely a script writer would be aware of that and any ad-lib from the actor on this key scene would not really work.
Your article bridged the gap for me as to why he said this to Dixon (The scene before also highlights that Dixon isn’t a fantastic speaker of English so the grammatical error is probably lost on him).
All morally bankrupt: hope they gave Idaho man a good kicking before they off’ed him.
Well noticed – ‘the double negative’ interesting, definitely strengthens the idea that mr Idaho is the man but untouchable federally. I would rather they got /beat a statement out of him so he did go to prison instead of them ending up in prison if they did kill him. The car journey had positive vibes for the future not their bleak futures in prison.
Wow, what a brilliant investigation! Thanks for the review! It’s just what I’ve been looking for to find some explanation to that strange dialogue with Abercrombie! I kind of felt he was hiding something.
Happy to hear that! Thank you!
Thanks for the review/analysis it really helped to put things in perspective. A passage from the movie is nagging at my brain, didn’t Willoughby state in his letter to Mildred: « We couldn’t catch a break in this case, maybe in a few years the guy will confess or brag about the deed and that’s how we will be able to catch him ». I believe this is like a prophecy and fits into the plot with the Soldier from Idaho? It also fits in nicely since she was given the letter right after the soldier harassed her. Finally, aren’t Idaho and Missouri kind of far apart? It feels like a long way around just to show support for a local cop over some billboards, unless he was angrier about the message on the billboards…
After finishing the movie, I was totally let down…until I read your article 🙂 I was so fired up when Dixon seemingly would bring us closure by movie’s end, with the gathered DNA. When the new chief says it’s not the guy, I was so pissed. I didn’t know what to make of the abrupt ending until I read your breakdown. The complexity of literally every character is unreal. So many actions by the characters are obviously over the line, but the moral teetering by every character is something that I’ve never seen before in a film. It’s such an emotional roller-coaster, that I didn’t realize how brilliant the writing actually was, in having ALL the characters display moral ambiguity to varying degrees. Thanks for the fantastic explanation!
This is the best review I’ve ever seen. On point. Magnificent!! Wow
Great analysis! Just saw the movie and agree with almost everything, well except just firing Dixon wasn’t enough justice for what he had done, so no, don’t think the chief was any hero just because of firing him.
Moreover, even if I can’t guess what “sandy” confidential country he meant the suspect was on when the crime happened, he was clearly protecting the criminal, also only saying he was innocent, saying there was no record on him whatsoever, yet not providing the actual evidence, e.g. a negative DNA report, a document showing no history on record, nothing like that, just saying he wasn’t the guy.
Agreeing with another comment: the 9 month is not incriminating, time must have passed for Dixon to heal, so the number of months since the crime necessarily had to go up in between some of the scenes in the last half hour of the movie.
I thought the movie was going to end with the car driving away next to the billboards and the music playing, just that. The final dialog in the car kind of surprised me a bit making me think: what still not finished? However it does bring closure in a way. Mildred admitted to Dixon that she had set the station on fire, and Dixon lightly answered who else could’ve been, confirming he had made peace with that. Then the fact that they say they are not sure about going through with their plan, but they can think about it on the way, does put the audience in their place, as someone commented. In any case, as soon as Mildred realizes it’s the same guy that threatened her at the shop, she will know. Great movie. Voted 9/10 for it on IMDB.
Hey hey! Yeah, just firing isn’t all the heroic haha. Very much falls under “the least you could do”.
Appreciate you sharing your thoughts!