With a title like Seven Psychopaths, this film will certainly keep you guessing who its lunatics truly are.
Seven Psychopaths is the self-aware, postmodern tale of a Hollywood screenwriter named Marty (Farrell) trying to think of ideas for a movie. Presumably, the main character’s name is meant to refer to the film’s own writer and director, Martin McDonagh of Six Shooter and In Bruges fame.
Marty is friends with Billy (Rockwell), who runs a dognapping business alongside his associate Hans (Walken). The immature and demented Billy drags Marty into a strange adventure when he kidnaps the dog of Los Angeles gangster Charlie (Harrelson), a contradictory blend of gangster-tough-guy and a man who misses his shih tzu to the point of tears.
Considering how frequently the film refers to its own title, it’s hard not to notice the dilemma between going in one direction or another with the plot. On the one hand, Marty claims to want to make a film about peace and love. This seems at odds with the fact that he simultaneously wants to write a film about psychopaths.
Naturally, then, the film delivers a lot of casual violence.
Although Psychopaths mentions possibly using a different tactic, these are generally dismissed and mocked. We came for glorified violence, and that’s what we’re going to get! In some ways, the film is just another action film with certain stereotypes and clichés. That said, the script still manages to break the mold.
The film’s twists and turns are surprising and inventive. With psychopaths in the mix, of course, one never really knows what’s going to happen next. The dialogue is also very well-written. For a film about the screenwriting process, the screenplay is refreshingly strong.
Christopher Walken delivers his wonderful persona and Rockwell does ‘crazy’ very well, although that’s usually the case with him. Farrell was the only weak link, delivering just enough to get by.
This style of storytelling will probably appeal most to those who consider themselves movie lovers – the kinds of people who really want to think about the construction of a film and the universe that a film inhabits.
Dir: Martin McDonagh; UK comedy/crime, 2012, 110 mins; Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell
Premieres December 25