Beyond Seven Psychopaths’ meta-moviemaking madness, Martin McDonagh’s second impressively rich and deviously fun stab at filmmaking may just be the best anti-violence film with an excess of violence ever made.
Shot in a noir Los Angeles, an alcoholic screenwriter named Marty (Colin Farrell) inadvertently gets entangled with the dangerous So-Cal mafia when his two friends, professional loony dognappers Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken), kidnap gang leader Charlie’s (Woody Harrelson) Shih Tzu.
In the midst of attempting to return Charlie’s prized and beloved dog, the triumvirate of psychopaths brainstorm screenwriting ideas to assist with the production of Marty’s latest, yet to be started, movie script. Eventually landing on the concept of seven psychopaths that are, paradoxically, the purveyors of murder and tranquility, McDonagh has fun interweaving an assortment of eccentric characters.
Chief among them being a Quaker that stalks his victim for two decades (just to make the convict go crazy in anticipation of death), a Vietnamese Priest bringing vengeance on the USA, a rabbit-fetishing serial killer, and a hooker recently graduated from Harvard. More delicious character developments are scattered all throughout the film. Albeit that I’ve mentioned a few individuals here, I’ve merely scratched the surface on what McDonagh is able to do with his vast, immensely talented cast.
The UK born filmmaker blends his dark sense of irreverent humor with a surprisingly thoughtful story of friendship seamlessly. And despite that he has only made two-feature length films at the age of 42, the knowledge of cinema expressed and applied is shocking.
As for the film’s inherent meta components, think Adaptation meets any British comedy gangster film. Whether Seven Psychopaths is attempting to articulate something poignant towards the movie industry is a bit hazy – and ultimately drowned out by the chaotic frenzy of humor, wit, and action on display.
Yet, although the film has all these disparate elements and vignettes, McDonagh is able to diligently cobble together a cohesive picture. At the core of the tightly knit narrative is a story about three oddball characters coming together to write a script and, if the opportunity so arises, return Bonny the Shih Tzu to her reckless, severely psychotic owner.
When the film played this past September at the Toronto International Film Festival it was met with roars of praise by all audiences. In describing the response of the folks at the Midnight Madness premiere, McDonagh told us there’s something “joyful about the film and there’s something joyful about the audience reaction.”
Most of us know that the hype surrounding a motion picture scarcely lives up to the hyperbolic rhetoric it receives. Seven Psychopaths isn’t one of those films – it’s a reprieve from normalcy and a celebration of originality and style. It also happens to be one of the most entertaining and enjoyable films to watch unfold on the silver screen this year.