Seven Psychopaths – Film Review

An intelligent, high-octane, self-reflexive joyride of a movie worth every penny you’ll pay to see it.

(I saw it for free, ha, sucks for you!)

(I’m sorry, that was douchey, I’ll go see it with you and pay ’cause it’s totally worth it.)

Famed playwright-screenwriter-director Martin McDonagh is best known for his last film, In Bruges, a film which I haven’t seen but know very well because all of my film school friends seem to quote it all the time. It’s known for its witty dialogue, action and outstanding characters. All of these traits carry over to Seven Psychopaths.

It seems McDonagh has been given carte blanche to creatively do what he wants after his Oscar nom for In Bruges, and has used it wisely. He creates a wild, uncontrollable, well-structured mess of a film that deserves a second watch to really understand the layers McDonagh has embedded in it.

To reveal more than the basic plot would be a disservice, so here’s the Wikipedia light synopsis:

Marty (Colin Farrell) is a struggling writer who dreams of finishing his screenplay, “Seven Psychopaths”. Billy (Sam Rockwell) is Marty’s best friend, an unemployed actor and part time dog thief, who wants to help Marty by any means necessary. All he needs is a little focus and inspiration.

Hans (Christopher Walken) is Billy’s partner in crime: a religious man with a violent past. Charlie (Woody Harrelson) is the gangster whose beloved dog Billy and Hans have just stolen. Charlie is unpredictable and extremely violent and wouldn’t think twice about killing anyone or anything associated with the theft. Marty is going to get all the focus and inspiration he needs, just as long as he lives to tell the tale.

The dialogue is easily a highlight, riffing on crime film tropes and the struggles of writing a film in the modern age. The Ben Davis cinematography is quite nice, getting better as the film progresses. The performances are all spot-on, especially from Rockwell and Walken. Direction relies a lot on long takes, which is always a plus, as it shows the ability of the actors. Everything flows together quite nicely, and all expectations are subverted. The Carter Burwell score isn’t overbearing, and, as usual, gets the job done with a subtle, underplayed touch. The Lisa Gunning editorial work is well-paced and none too flashy.

Overall, an incredibly satisfying film with unexpected depth well worth the price of admission.

About Dylan Visvikis

Dylan Visvikis is a working screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. View all posts by Dylan Visvikis

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