Monday, 8 February 2016

Seven Psychopaths - film review

Seven Psychopaths is a 2012 black comedy which reunites writer and director Martin McDonagh with Irish actor Colin Farrell. They worked together on In Bruges, another dark and witty crime film, which I really enjoyed. The later film is more ambitious, and certainly has entertaining moments, although I found it rather patchy in comparison to In Bruges.

The basic premise is that Farrell is a writer called Martin (naturally this predisposed me in his favour). He is based in California and working on a script called Seven Psychopaths. His pal Billy (Sam Rockwell), who offers to help him with the story, earns a crust by kidnapping dogs and earning rewards for returning them to their owners, Billy's partner, Hans (Christopher Walken) is a religious chap whose wife is suffering from cancer.

Things start to go badly wrong when Billy and Hans kidnap a dog to which a weird gangster played by Woody Harrelson is emotionally attached. In his demented quest to recover the dog, the gangster kills Hans' wife in hospital, and events spiral further out of control. This is a film where people die bloody, comic-book style deaths from the start of the film almost until its end.

The trouble with writing a screenplay about a screenplay is that self-awareness can slip into self-indulgence, and I felt that Seven Psychopaths' gleeful way with violence was sometimes at odds with more serious aspects of the story. The cast is strong, and I can see why the film has won many admirers, but it did leave me with mixed feelings.At times it seems too clever for its own good. Worth watching,yes, but for me, In Bruges is the better film.


Unknown said...

I agree that In Bruges is a much better film, but I got a kick out of this one, too.

seana graham said...

Even with the caveat, I'd be inclined to watch this because I thought In Bruges was so terrific, and would like to see even parts of this film that reach that level. Thanks for writing it up, as I hadn't heard of it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

On the nose, these were my feelings about it.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I haven't seen IN BRUGES yet and really want to as I quite enjoyed this one, though I agree, it rides pretty close to the wind in the metatextual stakes!