Martin McDonagh’s debut In Bruges has become something of a cult film. Quoted in small circles and laughed about quietly so people close by aren’t too offended. It walked a line between the ludicrously un-P.C and beautifully funny all the while being filled with a strangely effecting off kilter life philosophy and perfect performances. Seven Psychopaths stretches McDonagh’s writing talent and uses an ensamble cast to poke fun at the post Tarantino school of self aware film making. There is brutal violence, revenge, crackling wit, shoot outs in the desert, a jangly, too cool for school soundtrack and looping story lines at every turn. There’s nothing too deep here this time around but it’s flawlessly entertaining good fun.
Colin Farrell plays Martin (wouldn’t you know?) a struggling screen writer who is writing a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths. Unfortunately all he has is the title. But when his best friend and dog kidnapper Billy (Sam Rockwell) places an advert in the local paper for Psychos to tell their tales, hoping to inspire Martin, things get really out of control. There’s also the matter of a Shih-Zsu which was stolen from psychotic mob boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson), Martin’s alcoholism and Billy’s peyote taking, pacifist, Christian partner in crime Hans (Christopher Walken) and his dying wife. And that’s not even the half of it. There are back stories about some character’s lives and back stories about characters in Martin’s screenplay which are often blurred, a brilliant second half desert retreat by the three men on the run, a hilarious brainstorming session as the nutters try and fix Martin’s script, and there’s a mumbling Tom Waits as Zachariah, a Killer of killers with an affection towards bunny rabbits.
Somewhere between Spike Jonze’s Adaptation and Tarantino’s own Pulp Fiction, Seven Psychopaths is a complete hedonistic blast of vicious fun. McDonagh’s film is neither as thematically ingenius as the former or as timely as the latter but it’s the type of film that people have given up on making since their over population in the mid nineties. Where as Tarantino is concerned with consequences and premeditation of violent outbursts, McDonagh revels in them. Heads exploded, women and men are gunned down at every turn but the script backs the ultra violence up with a conundrum regarding being an artist in the bowels of Hollywood. The Martin on screen and the Martin behind the camera both seem to be wondering if it is possible to make a film called Seven Psychopaths and make it true and beautiful.
Beautiful? No. But with in this wordy, twisting glorious mess of a film there is certainly a lot going on: There’s Christopher Walken’s best film performance for ten years or more, Farrell’s most serious and restrained and possibly career best, Rockwell’s unsurpassed renowned scene stealing prowess, references to Sunset Boulevard and other endless film noirs, 20 or more hit and miss sub plots, which should be all seen for their gleeful ironic abandon in the face of attempting to make something like Seven Psychopaths serious and beautiful. It’s something that never could have been but McDonagh has instead made one of the most purely entertaining genre inside a genre films for a long time.
For all of it’s complex looping stories it is wonderfully simple (some will say dumb) but its sheer towering cartwheeling energy was a breath of fresh air at Sitges this year. There have been cries of misogyny regarding the disposal of all of it’s female cast members but offence is one of McDonaghs strong suits and he ties it all in to one line delivered by Walken to Farrell in that weirdly halting style. There are reasons behind the madness and although it may be pigeonholed as another spatter film about feuding gangsters and regular men wrapped in self parody, the comedic execution of it is nothing short of breathless. You’ll be smiling all of the way through Seven Psychopaths, grinning in it’s grizzled, scattershot, schizophrenic little face. 5 stars of pure fun.
neil @ projectorreview.tumblr.com/