London Film Festival 2012: Seven Psychopaths - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
WITH Seven Psychopaths, Martin McDonagh confidently serves notice that breakthrough hit In Bruges was no one-off.
Displaying the same knack for mixing profane comedy with stylish ultra-violence and well-written characters that are somehow worth caring about in spite of the dubiousness of their morality, McDonagh has delivered another film that easily sits alongside the year’s best.
The story, though, is a little more complex and lacking the focus of its predecessor.
Central to it is frustrated, borderline alcoholic screenwriter Marty (Colin Farrell), who has been unable to get beyond the title of his latest work, the eponymous Seven Psychopaths. There are loose ideas and the odd psychopathic character but nothing that really takes any shape.
Helping him along by doing his own kind of research is best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), a struggling actor who runs a profitable sideline in dog-kidnapping with the help of an older ex-con named Hans (Christopher Walken).
When Billy kidnaps the prized Shihtzu of LA underworld boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson), all three find themselves on his hit-list while also becoming embroiled in other violent shenanigans that are mostly pre-empted by an ill-advised advert that Billy has placed in a newspaper.
McDonagh’s film occasionally struggles to hang everything together by virtue of the sheer number of characters but several sequences border on the same kind of subversive genius that marked In Bruges out as so special.
An opening set-up, involving two Boardwalk Empire regulars, is particularly effective in getting the tone of the film down but is also indicative of the casual disregard for human life (or actor stature) that McDonagh has in store for his characters.
It also serves to lend the film an unpredictability that only adds to the delight.
The central performers, meanwhile, are all on great form. Farrell does exasperated brilliantly, Rockwell goes unashamedly bonkers yet somehow remains likeable, Walken combines menace with paternal grace and Harrelson marries violent rage with emotional wreckage at the loss of his dog.
There’s colourful support, too, from the likes of Tom Waits, as a bunny carrying psychopath, and Zeljko Ivanek as one of Charlie’s henchman, as well as several more cameos that are all ripe for the wasting.
Admittedly, some of the latter stages of the film feel prone to self-indulgence and the film, overall, may have benefitted even more from a little more time in the editing room.
But for sheer bloody, foul-mouthed fun and an ability to keep you surprised, engaged and laughing all the way, Seven Psychopaths is a bona fide crowd-pleaser that’s difficult to resist.
Running time: 106mins
UK Release Date: December 7, 2012
London Film Festival Dates: Friday, October 19 (OWE2); Saturday, October 20 (OWE1); Sunday, October 21 (Rich Mix)