‘Seven Psychopaths’ Movie Review – Doggone Funny
I completely believe that life is defined by the crazy people we meet. The context is up for interpretation, but the most influential people are the nutso ones. No movie, that I can think of, hammers this home better than Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths. The title alone suggests it may be an action thriller…but it’s actually the year’s funniest movie with one of the best comedy ensembles I’ve seen in a long time.
Before I dive deeper, I’d like to admit that I’m behind on watching McDonagh’s other films (most notably, the surprise 2008 hit In Bruges). With that being said, I’ve heard great things about them. If anything, Seven Psychopaths makes me even more excited to one day catch up with them.
The plot, for those wondering, is about a struggling screenwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell), and his best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), as they try to develop a screenplay about seven different psychopaths…and how they differ from one another. From the onslaught, it’s pretty obvious that the seven psychopaths they are fictitiously developing are the same characters on the screen…making for quite the meta experience.
Of these different “characters,” we get introduced to a dognapper named Hans (Christopher Walken) and his latest victim, a ruthless gangster (Woody Harrelson). As the plot clears up, all the characters start to cross paths.
McDonagh’s script brilliantly balances the violent nature of the film – Harrelson’s character being at the forefront – with the comedy. Harrelson and Walken are seasoned pros at being both great actors and comedians, but I was less familiar with Rockwell and Farrell.
The all-star is, by far, Rockwell, who gave one of the best comedy performances I can remember in a long time…as well as one of the best all-around performances of the year. Comedy actors are at a disadvantage for major acting awards, but I think an exception should be made here. He’s that funny. Farrell, too, is good, but his character isn’t written to be quite as open-ended as Rockwell’s; therefore, he brings the much needed seriousness to the story.
While I could talk about the comedy on end, it’s important to mention the film has a great heart, too. Outside of some of the more sentimental smaller arcs – those involving Hans and his wife and Charlie (Harrelson) and his beloved dog – comes the real heart: the relationship between Marty and Billy.
Then, all of this is covered by a very violent umbrella. This part may lose some more traditional audiences (those unwilling to handle violence), but my demographic should be okay with it.
The aforementioned meta component tends to be a polarizing style, too. Some people find it to be clever, while others find it gimmicky. In this instance, it’s not as much of a gimmick (there’s never parts where the characters look straight into the audience and say something), but more of a storytelling tool. A good comparison would be the Spike Jonze drama Adaptation. This is an apt comparison, too, because both films focus primarily on avoiding writer’s block.
Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychpaths, in short, is a movie you should see. It may be a little too violent for some, but the quirky humor – smartly developed by McDonagh’s own script – is very reminiscent of other great violent comedies (another great partner to this film would be Guy Ritchie’s Snatch). The whole cast is awesome (especially Sam Rockwell), and the story doesn’t dull, even when it’s close to two hours.
Not only is this one of the best comedies of the year, it’s one of the best all-around films. You can see it this weekend as it opens wide.
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