Review by The Isolated Moviegoer:
Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths is such a smart film that it could probably write this review itself. Chock full of actors known for their way with words and spouting the writer/director’s expert dialogue like the pros they are, the film is endlessly entertaining on every conceivable level, including a self-awareness rarely seen on screen. Hilarious, tastefully action-packed, and unbelievably fun, the latest from Ireland’s most impressive export since Guinness is a clear winner.
Colin Farrell stars as Marty, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter struggling to complete his new script, Seven Psychopaths. Tossing him ideas with the hope of co-writing the project is his buddy Billy (Sam Rockwell), a small-time crook who runs a dog “borrowing” service with Hans (Christopher Walken). When Billy takes the beloved Shih Tzu of notorious gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson), Marty gets dragged into the violent mix, becoming far more familiar with the kinds of characters he was hoping to merely write about.
Reunited with his In Bruges mastermind, Farrell is again at his best when under McDonagh’s guidance. A not so subtle stand-in for the filmmaker, his Marty is our anchor in an L.A. where seemingly everyone else is more than a little unhinged. Foremost on the list is Billy, played wonderfully by Rockwell in full loose-cannon mode. A performer who’s best when he can let a little unpredictability into his roles, Rockwell is given free range by McDonagh, firing off rich, hilarious lines as if he’s getting paid by the laugh.
Likewise taking full advantage of the deliciously lyrical script are Walken (having more fun than he’s had in years) and Harrelson, each of whom play with McDonagh’s words to maximum effectiveness. Further enjoying himself is Tom Waits as Zachariah, a former killer who answers Billy’s newspaper ad for psychopaths with stories to tell. In providing his humorous and unpredictable anecdote, Zachariah’s remembrances play out visually, and through this and other brief movies within the movie, Seven Psychopaths goes from mere entertainment to a surprisingly complex treatise on filmmaking, specifically the sort that Marty is concocting.
The screenwriter conceit allows for the film to constantly comment on itself and the film industry, including multiple jabs at trite storytelling that, though acknowledged, still come to fruition in the film. Through his refreshingly thoughtful characters, McDonagh takes shots at everything from poor usage of women to an excess of pointless violence to a picturesque location being a good place for an inevitable final shootout, all without disrupting the film’s perfect flow. The self-reflexivity is at its most impressive in an extended middle sequence during which Billy imagines such a big, bloody finale, brought vividly to life, word for word as he offers his suggestions for Marty’s script. The fantasy is an amazing couple of minutes, featuring Rockwell at the height of his powers, delivering thrills and laughs while McDonagh winks at the audience throughout.
When Seven Psychopaths comes to an end, as it sadly must, it does so with a grace, wit, and charm that honors the impressive cinema that brought the film to such a satisfying conclusion. All involved shine under McDonagh’s direction, having a contagious good time that resonates long after the credits roll. There won’t be a funnier film until the Irishman makes another.
Rated R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.
Seven Psychopaths is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.
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