Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths is the second feature film by British director Martin McDonagh (the first being In Bruges). Released by Film4 and funded partly by the BFI, the film is set in America with mainly American actors, but you can’t escape the quirky, unmistakably British, coal-black comedy. To say anything about the plot would spoil Seven Psychopaths if you haven’t already seen it. So if you haven’t, please stop reading and go and watch it first! If you liked In Bruges, then you will like Seven Psychopaths!

So Marty (Colin Farrell) is a screenwriter struggling to finish his screenplay. Marty’s best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell) is an unemployed actor who steals dogs to make money from rewards, also helping in this venture, Hans (Christopher Walken). Marty’s screenplay is called ‘Seven Psychopaths’, he is however lacking in inspirational ‘psychopaths’ for his characters. So Billy, unknowingly to Marty, helps find some psychopaths to get some character ideas going… And that’s where I will finish that! Just in case you haven’t seen it and decided to carry on reading anyway! I shall not be blamed for ruining this epic film for you!

Marty, Billy and Hans... and Bonny. The Shihtzu.

Marty, Billy and Hans… and Bonny. The Shihtzu.

Seven Psychopaths is immensely funny. It’s not PC, it’s not for the timid, several uses of the ‘C’ word is enough to put some people off. It’s completely off-the-wall quirky odd humour, although I understand that this might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is strange and it is weird. The plot itself has some huge gaps, like why is Charlie (Woody Harrelson) so psychotically obsessed with his dog? etc. There is not much back story about our main characters, for some for good reasons, others merely because their story isn’t important. The story jumps from one story to another, from one flashback to another, from one narrator to another, which takes some getting used to. The whole story is strung together, underpinned by the trajectory of Marty’s story (are you following me?) the film seems to go where he writes, sometimes accurately, sometimes not. It’s obviously very self-aware and once you finish watching, you’ll want to re watch straight away to try to spot things that you missed the first time around. Everything has a meaning, everything has a purpose. The underdevelopment of character is done for a reason, in particular in a nod to women in films, the dialogue between Billy and Hans highlights this perfectly.

Woody Harelson as Charlie - all he wants is his f**king dog back

Woody Harrelson as Charlie – all he wants is his f**king dog back

I have to say, I’m a little biased when it came to the cast, I’m a big fan of all of them and I thought they were all magnificent in Seven Psychopaths, in particular Colin Farrell, who I don’t think gets the credit he deserves. Each actor plays a character we instantly recognise from earlier films (Woody Harrelson – Natural Born Killers, Sam Rockwell – The Green Mile, Christopher Walken – True Romance). This story is made for these actors who have all at one point or another throughout their careers done something a little off-beat and odd-ball.

The true beauty of Seven Psychopaths is the unexpectedness of it. The trailer paints a very different picture to the content of the film, and you are kept guessing right up until the credits… The scene where they decide to go and spend some time in the desert, is written in Marty’s screenplay, which is also the end of it. If we go by the earlier scenes, the expectation is that the film will follow suit with the screenplay. But it doesn’t. There is nothing typical or predictable about Seven Psychopaths, which is refreshing! But in addition to this, the story itself finishes open-ended, no resolutions are offered, some are even taken away and replaced with nothing, but it feels right. It feels accomplished and satisfying. The story is set up just so, that each character’s fate is inevitable and in most cases, deserved.

Two of the Seven Psychopaths here shown in an imagining of a scene in Marty's Seven Psychopaths... (are you still following me?)

Two of the Seven Psychopaths here shown in an imagining of a scene in Marty’s Seven Psychopaths… (are you still following me?)

Seven Psychopaths is hugely enjoyable, simply stunning and caters for all cinema-goers. The cinephiles like me who can appreciate the nods to the film industry and casual viewers who will get involved in an engaging and vibrant story, which is genuinely clever. It’s certainly not going to be to everyone’s tastes, but if you liked In Bruges, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t like this.

(P.S. Boardwalk Empire fans will enjoy the opening scene of Seven Psychopaths…)

Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg

Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg

3 thoughts on “Seven Psychopaths

    • I think the cast is brilliant! I cant think of anyone who would have done a better job. I think sometimes with these ‘oddball’ type films, there is always a risk of it becoming camp and silly, and Seven Psychopaths avoided that, much to it’s success! Thanks for reading 🙂

  1. Pingback: The American (2010) | timneath

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