Marty is a screenwriter with writer’s block. He wants to write a script called Seven Psychopaths but he wants it not to be violent but life affirming. No final shoot outs, no last man standing, just reasoned discussion around a campfire in the desert. Just as well, then, that he has best friend Billy around to inspire him and put him straight. For Billy knows something that Marty doesn’t – psychopaths are all around. And whatever you do, don’t steal their dogs.
Seven Psychopaths is the long awaited follow up to 2008’s In Bruges by director Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell. You’d be forgiven for expecting wit, style, shocks – happy I was that this is just what I was given. It is self-knowing – aggravated by Colin Farrell’s screenwriter character being called Marty – and it has more swearing than my gentle ears are engineered to cope with but, nevertheless, there is a fun to be had from the games here. As Marty puts his script together, in between drinking large amounts of bourbon and beer, and Billy (Sam Rockwell) seeks to inspire him, in between co-running a dog stealing racket with Hans (Christopher Walken), the film that they write is mirrored by the film that we see. And while that means women do little but wear wet t-shirts, it also means that Farrell, Rockwell and Walken lead us on quite a twisty path.
It’s fair to say violence an blood are to be expected from a film which contains a minimum of seven psychopaths. There is a good bit of both here. I’m not a big fan of watching people having their heads sawn off, blown up or chainsawed but it’s done here in such a cartoony way I got through it relatively unscathed.
The film is a bit choppy in itself. It jumps about, mimicking the chaos in the brains of at least seven of its characters. It’s best not to expect too coherent a structure as the action follows a sequence that is more wished for than real. This is, after all, the story of the creation of a script about psychopaths. It is expected to follow a certain path and if reality challenges it at all then it’s too bad. It will be given a nudge.
Apart from some very decent scenery, the film belongs to Rockwell. So perfect in Moon and underused subsequently, here Rockwell flourishes, combining tragedy and comedy perfectly. Farrell also has some fun while not minding others stealing the limelight. Christopher Walken is his usual crazy scary self… What I enjoyed most of all, though, is the mix of the insanely ludicrously hilarious and the sadness of realising that we may lose the ones we love the most.
Dogs and rabbits also feature heavily in Seven Psychopaths but they fare marginally better than the humans.