Seven Psychopaths

Review: Seven Psychopaths

22 Jan 13

Seventh Heaven

'Seven Psychopaths' is writer/director Martin McDonagh's follow-up to the wonderfully dark, twisted comedy 'In Bruges' - and it doesn't disappoint. But I'd stop reading this review if meta-movie playfulness drives you nuts and has you spitting popcorn and screaming "Pretentious bashturds!" at the screen. This is movie-making about movie-making akin to Charlie Kaufman's 'Adaptation' or the Coen brothers' 'Barton Fink' - only far less po-faced.

Sam Rockwell's Billy is an LA lowlife who, along with old-timer Hans (the ever-wonderful Chris Walken) kidnaps rich people's dogs and then returns them to collect the reward from their grateful owners. Only Billy and Hans make the mistake of dog-napping the beloved pooch of sociopathic Charlie (Woody Harrelson at his over-the-top best) and - that's it. Some won't like the dark humour and the sudden mid-movie mood swing that wrenches a tragic twist in the tale, skewing the comedy into a desert-set existential road-movie, but personally? I loved it. But then I'm a sucker for bleak existential comedies - especially if they star Chris Walken, who frankly I'd enjoy watching read the telephone directory out loud whilst taking a crap. The guy oozes charisma and star quality. When one of Woody Harrelson's hoods demands that Walken put his hands up, Walken simply refuses. "No" he drawls "Why should I? I don't want to."

Mixed up in his friends dognapping scam is Colin Farrell's Marty, a screenwriter (um, 'Marty', like writer/director Marty McDonagh... geddit?) struggling to write a script. Early on in the movie Marty is asked by Billy how his screenplay for 'Seven Psychopaths' is coming. Marty replies: "Slow. I've got the title... just haven't been able to come up with all the psychopaths yet." When Billy asks just how many psycho's he's got, Marty tells him: "One. And he ain't really much of a psychopath. He's more of a... Buddhist...I'm sick of all these stereotypical Hollywood murderer scumbag type psychopath movies. I don't want it to be one more film about guys with guns in their hands. I want it, overall, to be about love - and peace. But it still has to be about these seven psychopaths, so this Buddhist psychopath, he doesn't believe in violence. I don't know what the fock he's going to do in the movie..."

And there's the movie in a nutshell. A comedic ensemble caper comedy that contemplates violence and movies, comically... not to mention violently. Violently comically. Um... yeah. It's a boys own caper, sort of 'Oceans 11' for hipsters - with an Uber-cool cast, featuring alongside Walken, Farrell, Rockwell, Harrelson the likes of Tom Waites as the rabbit-loving killer, Zachariah. Think Tarantino's 'Reservoir Dogs' with dialogue by Woody Allen, because McDonagh's script snaps crackles and pops with comedic dialogue. Remember Woody Allen's 'Play It Again Sam'? Hitting on a girl in an art gallery, Woody asks: "What are you doing Saturday night?" She replies bleakly: "Committing suicide." Quick as a flash, Woody responds: "What about Friday?" In 'Seven Psychopaths' when Zach tells Marty he's going to kill him Tuesday, Marty replies bleakly: "That's good, I'm not doing anything Tuesday."

So, if you're free Tuesday, or any other night, and fancy some meta-movie existential comedic violence, you should check out 'Seven Psychopaths.' The mix of comedy, drama, melancholy, violence and meditation doesn't always work and certainly isn't for all tastes, but if you like watching great actors having a ball with a script that dares to be different, then it's a heck of a lot of fun.