Review: Seven Psychopaths (TIFF 2012)
PLOT: Marty (Colin Farrell) is a struggling, alcoholic screenwriter, trying to finish up a screenplay called SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. Little does he know, the dog-napping scheme of his best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is going to give him some first-hand knowledge of his material, especially once Sam and his partner Hans (Christopher Walken) take psycho gangster Charlie's (Woody Harrelson) beloved shih tzu.
REVIEW: When I heard Martin McDonagh's latest film SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS would be playing midnight madness at TIFF, I assumed someone had made a hilarious mistake. Certainly the latest film from the director of IN BRUGES didn't belong opposite such hardcore fare as DREDD?
Within about two minutes of SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS starting it dawned on me that yes, it did in fact belong in this category, with two BOARDWALK EMPIRE actors who cameo meeting particularly grisly ends. In fact, I'd wager that SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS is an even more violent film than DREDD 3D, although it's done in such a hilarious way that you'll be hard pressed to notice or be horrified by it.
A huge departure from IN BRUGES (one of my favourite films of the last few years)- SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS is like a meta-deconstruction of hardcore PULP FICTION-esque gangster tales, featuring one of the best ensemble casts I've seen in years. It's all anchored by McDonagh regular Colin Farrell, who- in a departure from his action hero parts in TOTAL RECALL, plays a fragile, sensitive, even cowardly screenwriter, who expertly deconstructs all the conventions of the gangster film through dialogue, even when McDonagh is staging the very scenes he's talking about.
However, in a way he's a straight-man to Sam Rockwell, who gets one of his best ever roles as Farrell's dog-napping buddy with a secret. What this secret is I will not reveal, except to say that everyone's going to emerge from SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS raving about him. As his partner-in-crime, the great Christopher Walken gets his most Walken-esque role in years, subverting and parodying his own image, while also imbuing the gentle Hans with a surprising amount of pathos and heart. He also gets a scene to rival his own iconic part in TRUE ROMANCE during an intense confrontation with Woody Harrelson (brilliant in a role once earmarked for Mickey Rourke)- who plays the devil incarnate gangster they all mess with.
In the space on 100 minutes, McDonagh shows-us a bunny cradling Tom Waits as a Dexter-style serial killer, Harry Dean Stanton as a Quaker vigilante, and ratchets up a huge body-count, while simultaneously presenting an interesting deconstruction of screen violence (you'll have to see it to get what I mean, but it's not as precious as it sounds). Perhaps my only complaint here is the two-dimensional parts given to the gals, Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko, but that in itself is commented on to hilarious effect by Walken, so that's not much of a criticism.
While I still liked IN BRUGES more, as that one had a more profoundly emotional impact, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS has it's own energy, and it's a damn exciting, hilarious blast of celluloid that hopefully audiences will be hip enough to get into.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Bonnie the shih tzu is this year's Uggie.|