D/W: Martin McDonagh. DP: Ben Davis. Starring: Colin Farrell/Sam Rockwell/Christopher Walken/Woody Harrelson/Abbie Cornish/Tom Waits/Olga Kurylenko/Gabourey Sidibe/Michael Pitt/Michael Stuhlbarg.
Every know and then there is a film that catches me off guard. Either I haven’t researched it obsessively enough or simply, its marketing didn’t reach me. Seven Psychopaths was one of these. And now it is one of the most memorable films of the year.
Previously nominated in 2009 for best original screenplay for In Bruges, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh is at his best here. McDonagh has better command of his story and the rhythm of this world. Frankly, In Bruges was not for me. However, this film uses its humor and violence to create a dynamic world that is unforgettable.
Seven Psycopaths might appear to be just another movie about crazies. But rather it is a film about storytelling, its frustrations and how one idea can manifest itself in your own life. As writer Marty (Colin Farrell) attempts to write a new screenplay amidst an alcohol haze, his concept of seven psychopaths that aren’t any good and doing what they do takes on a life of its own. But rather than falling into a silly “this is how we make a movie” story, the film takes off in exploring just how ridiculous psychopathic scenarios are and how specifically the movie business has heightened this silliness. This is where McDonagh’s writing shines. He is able to build moments within in the movie that actively debunk movie conventions while also embracing them for what they are and the pleasure they provide.
Additionally, Seven Psycopaths is a success because of the group of actors involved. Farrell roots the story in realistic egotistical handsomeness, that actually works here. His character is able to balance out the many moods of Sam Rockwell, who nearly steals the whole film. Christopher Walken, now a walking caricature of himself, simultaneously gives his scenes violent humor and tenderness that round out the group of misfits. Woody Harrelson has a fun turn as a crazily intense psychopath looking for his dog. Once you’ve seen his menacing act you’ll laugh to think Mickey Rourke originally had the part.
One of my major gripes in the film is the complete dismissal of women. They all die, are bitches or just provide a catalyst for the action.Out of seven psychopaths only one is a woman and she works in a team (with a man) rather than on her own. However, it is healthy to let go of gripes and regardless, Seven Psychopaths is brilliant and should remind everyone why we just might not have needed that re-make of Total Recall…