DIR/WRI: Martin McDonagh • PRO: Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Martin McDonagh • DOP: Ben Davis • ED: Lisa Gunning • DES: David Wasco • CAST: Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Colin Farrell
Psychopaths make great movies. Or at least, psychopathic characters make for great movies. Just one psychopath can make for memorable viewing, such as Hannibal Lecter or, in TV land, Dexter. Seven psychopaths? Director Martin McDonagh hasn’t made your standard cinema fare in the past and he’s not about to start now.
McDonagh’s follow-up to the superb In Bruges reunites the director with Colin Farrell. Farrell plays the lead, Martin, a Hollywood screenwriter suffering from writer’s block with only the title of his next script committed to paper. The title of his script? ‘Seven Psychopaths’. So let’s recap – Seven Psychopaths is a movie about a screenwriter, named Martin, writing a movie called ‘Seven Psychopaths’. You’d be correct in thinking this not your average cinema material.
Seven Psychopaths is recognisable as a McDonagh production through its moments of shocking violence amidst prolonged spells of colourful language. The movie brings to mind similarly mind-bending ventures, such as anything by Charlie Kaufmann. It also recalls Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang as it playfully toys with Hollywood clichés. The movie jumps between the reality of McDonagh’s script and the fantasy of Martin’s script, with one bleeding into the other. McDonagh passes little heed on the innocent audience as he splices the two Hollywood worlds together, stopping just short of having his characters talk directly to the camera in a movie about moviemaking.
Farrell is given fantastic support from an array of actors that suit the title very nicely including Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits; men for whom psychosis doesn’t seem much of a stretch. The cast relish McDonagh’s dialogue in a script where anything goes, and regularly does go. Watching Walken and Harrelson share the screen is a sight to behold. Each man trying to out-psychopath the other until they are literally gobbling up scenery as quickly as their maniacally toothy grins will allow. Okay, maybe not literally, but not far off either.
With Seven Psychopaths, McDonagh has taken another bold step in cementing his status as a truly fearless and original filmmaker at a time when studios are increasingly fearful of risky business. You’d be crazy to miss out on this slice of madness.
Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Seven Psychopaths, is released on 7th December 2012