Not a Movie Snob - Seven Psychopaths

Posted on Friday, October 26, 2012 at 06:00 PM

"And a bunny rabbit"

Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths is like one of the those 'two guys walk into a bar' jokes that goes on and on, getting more and more outrageous as it does, for almost two straight hours. Is that a complaint? Not in this case, no. In this case, as the joke gets more bloated and over the top, it remains funny and mostly entertaining. If this narrative style fails the movie at all, it does so in regards to its request that we take the movie seriously at times, which is hard to do. Like writer/director Martin McDonagh's last movie, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths is well written, with plenty of witty, juicy dialogue, no shortage of bloody violence and an undercurrent of sadness, which, while certainly present, was much more effective in In Bruges.

In Psychopaths, the story centres around Colin Ferrell's character, who McDonagh obviously wrote after himself, even calling the character Martin McDonagh, as a somewhat depressed, alcoholic screenwriter struggling to finish his latest screenplay, for which he only has a title, which is, aptly, Seven Psychopaths. So we've probably got an art imitating life kind of thing going here, mirroring McDonagh's own struggles with his follow up to In Bruges. Ferrell's friend, played by the amazing Sam Rockwell, gets him inadvertently involved in a dog heist scheme involving a short tempered mob boss and his beloved pooch Bonnie. Hilarity and carnage ensue.

More than anything else in this film, the standout element is the performances. Every single one of these psychopaths are played by some of the best A-list and character acting talent currently working in the film biz: Christopher Walken, Rockwell and Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton hit the screen hard and each bring their unique acting ingredients to the performance soup.

The film is infused with an electric visual style which employs not shortage of gimmicky but effective stylistic choices to keep the story on its feet. Flashbacks, animation and breaks in the storyline for characters to tell tales about things and people which may or may not factor into the actual narrative of the film at some point are all an indicator that McDonagh is getting more and more comfortable with the medium and I'm excited to see where he goes from here with the tricks he's picking up along the way.

Seven Psychopaths is an entertaining ride, an interesting story, especially where it intersects with real life, that provides a wide canvas for many funny and violent moments. Unfortunately, that same canvas does feel more jokey than serious and the story itself is pretty silly and over the top, preventing any real emotional connection to the material. But the writing and performances kept me from any eye rolling and while it doesn't quite reach the bar set by In Bruges for McDonagh, it is yet another example of an exciting new filmmaking talent who I think is headed for great things.

Rating: ****



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