Unabashed violent comedy from director of In Bruges
Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to In Bruges is as fiercely violent as its title suggests, and a whole lot funnier. Its film-within-a-film concept finds alcoholic screenwriter Marty (Colin Farrell) troubled by writer’s block; he’s got a title – Seven Psychopaths – but alas no story. Marty is assisted in the development of his script by his dog-napper buddy Billy (Sam Rockwell) who goes so far as to place a wanted ad in the local paper (bringing deranged bunny lover Tom Waits to their door). To complicate matters, Billy and his affable partner-in-crime Hans (Christopher Walken) are being pursued by their very own psychopath after kidnapping the beloved pooch of crime boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson). With so many encounters with real psychopaths, Marty soon finds plenty of material to start assembling his script.
While Farrell hardly registers at the film’s centre, Walken gives a performance of nuanced hilarity and Rockwell is sensational as the unstable Billy – a bouncy ball of deluded, badass energy. McDonagh’s script is a riot and he directs with energy and a masterful grasp on the meta, though fails to quite match the visual chutzpah of, say, Quentin Tarantino, who the film so clearly emulates. Furthermore, McDonagh’s film might make a joke out of how pathetically drawn its female characters are but this hardly excuses it (Abbie Cornish as Marty’s girlfriend Kaya barely features and is relentlessly described as a bitch), and it’s also way too gruesomely gratifying to succeed in its critique of movie violence. However, a more purely entertaining film you’d be hard pressed to find; Seven Psychopaths is best enjoyed as an unabashed hell-raiser that’s also bloody funny.
Seven Psychopaths screened at London Film Festival. On general release from Fri 7 Dec.