Post with 1 note
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Woody Harrelson, Olga Kurylenko
Screenplay/Director: Martin McDonagh
Seven Psychopaths isn’t quite as good as it could be, but it’s a far sight better than its marketing campaign would have you believe. It’s a tough film to market, maybe. It’s a violent comedy, not unlike a Tarantino movie in that regard, but quite different in its aims. I saw a friend’s Facebook post likening it to one of the many ’90s Tarantino ripoff films, like Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. And yes, the opening scene will remind you of something like that, with two Mafia thugs (Michael Pitt and the guy who plays Arnold Rothstein on Boardwalk Empire) chatting about thug stuff while a masked man sneaks up behind them and kills them.
But then the movie establishes its own voice. Basically, McDonagh is writing about himself through Farrell’s struggling, alcoholic screenwriter character, Marty, who can’t get his Seven Psychopaths script going. He’s got a buddy, sometime actor, now dog-napper Billy Bickle (Rockwell, and yes, the Taxi Driver reference is too on-the-nose), who gives him some ideas. Billy does his ‘napping with Walken, a decent man and loving husband who nonetheless appears to be a career scam artist. McDonagh weaves in the rest of his psychopaths, and some appear to be inventions of Marty or Billy, or are they? Harrelson is one of the very real psychopaths, who wants revenge on whoever ‘napped his beloved dog.
Some of it is style over substance, discrete scenes that are entertaining and funny without doing anything else. But it keeps moving, carried by Rockwell, Walken and Waits, in that order. Farrell is actually a liability, and it’s odd that McDonagh seems to see him as his muse or avatar, because he’s so thoroughly average. It’s actually to McDonagh’s credit as a writer/director that the movie is as enjoyable as it is with such a poor lead. It seems to be a blind spot with him, though one oddly self-aware bit in the movie is when Walken’s character reads Marty’s script and notes his female characters are thin and have little to do. That’s the case here, with Kurylenko as Harrelson’s cheating girlfriend, existing only to look hot before she gets killed, and Cornish as Marty’s girlfriend, existing only to be a nag and then disappearing, showing up once more in a fantasy sequence just to show off her wet tank-topped tits. One of those uncomfortable cases where a filmmaker seems to recognize his shortcomings and the cliches of his chosen genre, but then succumbing to them. To his credit, however, he does playfully bring the film home with a conclusion that has some expected, bloody payoffs but does so with a fair amount of wit. It’s not a great film, but definitely worth seeing.