Peace, love and understanding – ★★★
Everyone’s a psychopath or so Martin McDonagh would have you believe in his latest offering to the silver screen; Seven Psychopaths. Colin Farrell is Marty, the successful screenwriter with writer’s block and his only friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is hell-bent on inspiring him no matter what it takes.
Billy is in the dog kidnapping business with his good friend Hans (Christopher Walken) but when they kidnap Charlie’s dog (Woody Harrelson, the dog isn’t played by Woody, the film isn’t that odd) it unleashes (geddit!?) a scenario that just so happens to make for an enjoyable two hours. With Marty unable to pin down the bones (I’ll stop now) of his latest script the events unfolding in front of his eyes means the story writes itself.
The film jumps around a lot which is understandable due to the nature of its premise. There are cuts to scenes of Colin’s film with voice overs and pieces are revisited with small variations, leaving it open to being called disjointed. Much is foretold in the opening half of the piece which is a clever trick and often lends a film to a second watch. Parts are outstanding; Rockwell’s monologue on how the film should end and another one from Walken on the notion of hate and remorse are the stand out segments. It’s always good to see Harry Dean Stanton and what film doesn’t benefit from Tom Waits?
| o | – Waiting for revenge
What McDonagh seems to be grappling with is the concept that there is violence within all of us and all around us and how we choose to deal with this notion. We can choose the path of non-violence like Walken’s character or embrace it fully like Rockwell’s. Many of the perceived psychos all have some moral compass with most of them acting out of loyalty or some form of love no matter how deluded. To make so many believable characters is no easy achievement. The weakest character is Farrell’s. You would imagine with him being a proclaimed alcoholic he could have brought more of this to the character but he seems out of his depth at times amongst the imposing figures of Rockwell, Walken and Harrelson. Marty is clearly an incarnation of McDonagh and having penned the script himself, perhaps the character was too close for comfort making him unable to give it any real sustenance.
McDonagh is an accomplished playwright, “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan” being just two of his works which both contain strong, funny and believable female characters. This makes you feel that with Seven Psychopaths he is making a point about how women are portrayed terribly in most action Hollywood films and not merely using it as a get out of jail free card. His notion of how women are easily disposed of while God forbid you try and kill an animal is well noted. This said there is always a danger that a message can be lost on the intended audience and you merely end up preaching to the choir. Therefore in future he should return to his former glory with characters such as Maureen Folan from Leenane.
Psychopaths is very enjoyable and will no doubt enter the cult canon in years to come. So heavily reliant on those who have gone before, most notably Quentin Tarantino, and with the story of a struggling screenwriter not being the most original (Barton Fink anyone ?) one would hope that McDonagh doesn’t disappear into the murky world of tinsel town.
UK / Directed By: Martin McDonagh / Written By: Martin McDonagh / Starring: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Abbie Cornish, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Waits / 110min / Comedy, Crime / Release: 12 October 2012 (US), 5 December 2012 (UK/Ireland)