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Seven Psychopaths

November 5, 2013

Seven Psychopaths (2012)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Actors: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken

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Synopsis: Struggling Irish writer, Marty (Colin Farrell), is working on a screenplay titled ‘Seven Psychopaths’. While working on the characters and plot of the screenplay, Marty’s friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) and elderly gent Hans (Christopher Walken) get into trouble when their pet kidnapping ‘side-business’ sees them cross paths with a real life thug, Charlie (Woody Harrelson)….

Review: Seven Psychopaths sees Martin McDonagh falter after the promising In Bruges. In many ways, this misstep shouldn’t come as a surprise, because much garlanded by In Bruge‘s commercial – but also, critical – success, McDonagh was always likely to be encouraged to develop that film’s loose recipe on a much larger ‘Hollywood’ canvas. To me, it’s a counter-intuitive thought-process (probably a fault too of the BFI and Film4 who supported Seven Psychopaths and presumably didn’t ask too many questions), because as per my review of In Bruges, it’s a ramshackle of a movie, it’s certainly not a template, and it only really worked through the intangible ‘chemistry’ of its scenario, iconic Bruges location, more concentrated plot and set of characters, and slower build-up to the shoot-up ending.

Seven Psychopaths’ comic elements feel much less funny than I’m sure they were intended to (this includes the notion of a dog-kidnapping business, a psychopathic gangster who just happens to have a soft spot for his little Shih Tzu, and a ‘droll’ Tom Waits sequence where he carries a white rabbit and reminisces about the time he serial-killed serial killers – get it?) The baroque stories-within-stories and irreverent dialogue have been done immeasurably better in the films of Quentin Tarantino, and the riffing on a writer’s work merging with the world around him/her was much more fruitful in Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (comedy) and Julio Medem’s Sex and Lucia (drama). (November 2013)

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