Sunday, October 14, 2012
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths is the story of a struggling screenwriter who teams up with his best friend and another man to steal dogs only to realize they’ve stolen the dog of a troubled gangster. The three men deal with all sorts of trouble as they try to return the dog to the gangster. The film is a dark comedy that revolves around mistakes and mayhem as a writer seeks inspiration for his movie. Starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Olga Kurylenko, Abbie Cornish, Zeljko Ivanek, Gabourey Sidibe, Kevin Corrigan, and Tom Waits. Seven Psychopaths is a witty yet off-the-wall dark comedy from Martin McDonagh.
Struggling to write a new screenplay called Seven Psychopaths, Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is trying to come up with ideas as he’s dealing with writer’s block and lack of inspiration. Helping him is his friend Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) who often spouts lots of ideas for Marty to use as Billy spends his time kidnapping dogs with his friend Hans (Christopher Walken). One of the dogs Billy and Hans get is a Shih Tzu that belonged to the gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson) as Billy decides to keep the dog for himself. Aware that Costello is deranged and is willing to kill at any length to get his dog back while there’s a psychopath killing low-level mobsters.
Marty, Billy, and Hans go on the run to hide from Billy and his hoodlums where Marty gets ideas for his story while learning more about the world of psychopaths that included a man he previously met named Zachariah Rigby (Tom Waits). Hiding at the desert, Marty gets more ideas while struggling with his alcoholism where he learns more about what is going on as Billy has a crazy idea for the ending that involves a showdown with Costello.
Anyone who knows about the art of writing knows that inspiration is hard to come by as the film is about a man trying to write a story about psychopaths that is different from the world of crime movies. Yet, he would end up meeting a slew of crazy characters that would be inspirational to him while taking part in a scheme that goes all wrong when it involves a gangster who is completely edgy and is willing to do anything to get his dog back. Mayhem ensues when these three men try to figure out how to deal with this unhinged gangster as more surprises are unveiled about the people the writer has been hanging out with.
Martin McDonagh’s screenplay definitely has a flair of snappy dialogue, absurd situations, and multiple stories that revolves around psychopaths as it begins with two hitmen (Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Pitt) talking about killing someone and all things go to shit when the first psychopath is introduced. It’s part of McDonagh’s scheme to introduce a slew of psychopaths as it includes Vietnamese man (Long Nguyen) seeking vengeance against the Americans over the Vietnam War. Throughout the film, there’s scenes where it plays to Marty’s attempt to write the screenplay as there’s lots of fantasy scenes that plays to the idea of trying to write a screenplay. Even as it involves all sorts of character twists and such that plays to that world of the writer. The one flaw in the script is the way some of the female characters are presented like Marty’s girlfriend Kaya (Abbie Cornish) and Costello’s girlfriend/Billy’s mistress Angela (Olga Kurylenko) as they don’t really get much to do at all with the story.
McDonagh’s direction is quite straightforward in terms of presenting the mind of a writer as Marty is this uninspired writer who likes to drink a lot and hang around with his oddball buddies. Shot on location in Los Angeles and other parts nearby, it is a film that revolves around this strange criminal underworld that features a lot of strange and dark violent scenes. The violence is very brutal in the presentation as it plays to not just the fantasy of violence but also the grim reality. McDonagh does create some wonderful compositions and framing to display the world or the characters in their situations that includes some fantasy scenes or offbeat flashback scenes. Overall, McDonagh creates a fun yet very unconventional black comedy that explores the world of writing and psychopaths.
Cinematographer Ben Davis does nice work with the film‘s cinematography to capture the beauty of the locations in Los Angeles as well as the locations at the Joshua Tree Park. Editor Lisa Gunning does superb work with the editing by creating montages in the film‘s flashbacks and fantasy scenes along with some stylish cuts in some of those moments. Production designer David Wasco, along with set decorator Sandy Reynolds-Wasco and art director John Dexter, does some fantastic work with the sets such as the home that Billy lives in to the dog shelter he and Hans run.
Costume designer Karen Patch does terrific work with the costumes from the clothes the men wear to the more stylish clothes that Kaya wears. Sound editor Joakim Sundstrom does some wonderful work with the sound to capture the atmosphere of the locations along with the intimate moments involving a few characters. The film’s music by Carter Burwell is brilliant for its low-key, jazz-driven score to play up the film‘s dark humor. Music supervisor Matt Biffa is filled with a lot of songs from the 60s and 70s to play out the world the characters inhabit.
The casting by Sarah Finn is great for the ensemble that is created as it features some cameo appearances from Harry Dean Stanton as a mysterious psychopath, Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg as a couple of mob hitmen in the beginning of the film, Kevin Corrigan and Zeljko Ivanek as a couple of Costello’s henchmen, Long Nguyen as a Vietnamese psychopath, Brendan Sexton III as the young Zachariah, Gabourey Sidibe as the dog’s original caretaker Sharice, and Linda Bright Clay as Hans’ wife Myra. Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko are quite good in their respective roles as Marty’s girlfriend Kaya and Costello’s girlfriend Angela though neither of them really get a lot of development nor any big moments for them to really stand out. Tom Waits is superb as the mysterious Zachariah who has this amazing scene where he tells a story about his notorious killings.
Woody Harrelson is brilliant as the deranged Charlie Costello who is determined to get his dog back as Harrelson brings a dark humor to the character who is also an emotional mess. Christopher Walken is fantastic as Hans who is a man with a dark past as he tries to deal with a situation while providing some very funny ideas to Marty. Sam Rockwell is outstanding as the very offbeat Billy who spouts all sorts of ideas to Marty while doing all sorts of crazy things as it’s Rockwell at his finest. Finally, there’s Colin Farrell in an excellent performance as the troubled Marty who is trying to come up with a great script as he deals with his alcoholism, his bitchy girlfriend, and all of the violence that is happening around him as it’s a very funny performance from Farrell.
Seven Psychopaths is a marvelous film from Martin McDonagh that features top-notch performances from Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson. The film is definitely an intriguing piece into the world of writing as well a darkly-comic look into the world of the psychopaths. Notably in the latter as it shows the absurdity of murder and crime as well as what some people are willing to do to create the ultimate story. In the end, Seven Psychopaths is a remarkable film from Martin McDonagh.
Martin McDonagh Films: (Six Shooter) - In Bruges - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
© thevoid99 2012
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Great review Steve. I had a blast with this film and made me realize that McDonagh has one hell of an original mind. Definitely not as endearing or good as In Bruges, but still a great film in it's own right and had me watching with a smile on my face, practically from start to finish.
Nice review Steven, I am curious about this one, I've been hearing mixed reviews about it!
@Dan-This was a fun film to watch though I think In Bruges is the better film.
@Diana-This is a good film if you're into smart writing and lots of quirky violence although my only qualm about is the way some of the female characters are portrayed.
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