Seven Psychopaths

Directed by Martin McDonagh
Starring Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits & Sam Rockwell
In UK Cinemas from December 5, 2012

by Joanna Orland

WARNING: This review makes as little sense as the film!

Let’s start with what is on everyone’s minds – Seven Psychopaths, Martin McDonagh’s follow up film to the remarkable In Bruges, is not as good as its predecessor.  Even so, fans of McDonagh and his unique writing style will not be disappointed.  While slightly inferior, there are clear parallels between Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges.  Sam Rockwell’s character Billy is strongly reminiscent of Colin Farrell’s character Ray in In Bruges, while Colin Farrell’s character Marty is reminiscent of Brendan Gleeson’s Ken in In Bruges.  Comparing this relationship of Billy & Marty / Ray & Ken to such a classic dynamic as that of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Mercutio, Sam Rockwell was on hand after the film screening to sing McDonagh’s praises.

McDonagh has mastered the boys club film, even acknowledging this fact in the meta aspect of Seven Psychopaths with Marty not writing any good female parts in his screenplay – Marty as in Martin McDonagh, played by Colin Farrell.  It goes a bit Charlie Kaufman – Nicholas Cage – Adaptation at times, but with a much sharper wit and over the top cast.  Lines that cite how it’s okay to kill women in films, just not animals, mirror the real life experience of McDonagh’s experience in making this film.  While he’s been very unkind to the women characters in his films, his financiers forced him to show some mercy to his animal stars and to rewrite his script to avoid any animal cruelty, even if just staged for the sake of the film.  But fine if all of the women get shot and have nothing to say for themselves!  McDonagh bashfully apologized for this portrayal of women and has promised that his next feature film has a strong 50-something year-old female lead who could take down all of these boys in McDonagh’s little club.

As I’m sure you’re gathering from the structure of this review, this film is the least straightforward film I have seen all year.  It’s part Hollywood satire, part action film parody, and completely bonkers.  The main strength of this film lies in the casting.  Psychopaths including Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits and Sam Rockwell couldn’t disappoint even if they tried.  Least of all Sam Rockwell who has the Midas Touch as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve seen him in some real stinkers, yet whenever he is on screen, I am hooked.  Writer/Director McDonagh clearly felt the same way and even wrote the character of Billy with Rockwell in mind.

The only problem with the cast is lead actor Colin Farrell himself.  With his sensational performance of charismatic Ray in In Bruges, he almost feels underused as the straight moral compass of Seven Psychopaths.  Sure, he’s still his charming Irish self with comedic cliche’s that plague him including being an alcoholic, but nonetheless, I was waiting for him to go all Ray on the other Psychopaths!  Although having said that, there probably wasn’t room for another big character with such a strong cast to compete against.  Every Psychopath is a scene stealer, it’s remarkable.

This film is filled with some of the funniest lines of dialogue and performances that have appeared on screen since, well, Farrell in In Bruges. Forced plot and non-linear story are no derailment for such strong characters.  Perhaps this is what is meant by the idea of something whose parts are more than its sum.  Even so, the parts are hilariously excellent.

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