As a comedic crime drama “Seven Psychopaths” delivers the goods plus much more. This film blends aspects of comedy, tragedy, violence, nudity, and friendship all together in an unforgettable way, from a scene of the tragic murder of Maya (Linda Bright Clay) to a scene of the Mafia Boss’s head exploding.
Written and directed by Martin McDonagh and set in LA, the storyline follows a struggling Irish screen writer named Marty (Collin Farrell) creating a movie about seven psychopaths. Marty’s best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) has teamed up with a con-artist named Hans (Christopher Walken) that steals dogs to make a living, and Billy stole the favorite Shih Tzu of LA based Mafia boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson) to teach him a lesson on how Harrelson treats his girlfriend.
What makes this movie so great is that it captures the feel of films such as “Reservoir Dogs” but in a different way due to the writing and the performance of its great cast. Walken as Hans is unforgettable for how he can switch from seriousness, sadness, and the classic Walken childlike innocence and charm despite being a con-artist. Rockwell experiences interesting character developments albeit backwards in his sanity. Rockwell’s character is the funniest character for the reason that his sanity starts off as normal, then he’s later revealed to be one of the main psychopaths in the film. Harrelson is lovably despicable when executing people in a heartless manner, but also pitiful in a relatable way when thinking about his lost dog Bonny.
McDonagh made sure to blend many elements of storytelling, but also to poke fun at the job of being a serious writer in Hollywood through use of Farrell’s character Marty. The dialogue between Marty, Billy, and Hans helps Marty develop his story which he only thought of the tittle for. The awful thing about the fictional film in “Seven Psychopaths” is that the film is based off the deaths and killings going on around Farell. In the movie there are separate sub plots that come in contact with each other at pivotal points like where Harrelson murders Clay, who is Han’s wife. The film culminates in a final fantastic showdown that has to be seen to be believed.
The cinematography and sets were shot in different locations around Los Angeles, and were noticeably very real looking. The camera work was steady and professionally done, unlike “The Hunger Games” which left one feeling queasy. The soundtrack comprises some classical music such as “Strophes ‘Premiers transports que nui n’oblie…” from “Roméo et Juliette, Op 17” by Hector Berlios played during a dramatic flashback of two lovers, and 70s tracks such Cat Steven’s “The First Cut Is the Deepest” being performed by the P.P. Arnold. The tracks are used quite effectively scene by scene and will tickle the senses of even the most cold hearted cinema snob, even as the credits roll by. Are there any complaints about the film? Some here and there with how the plot unfurls.
The biggest thing to notice is the amount of violence present in the film, beyond the obvious executions there is a scene with body mutilation where one of the characters slits their own throat. There were small amounts of racism throughout the film towards the African American characters, but only because the racism was coming the mafia most of the time. In other parts there are amounts of upper body nudity on some of the actresses likely to bother some more puritan members of society and foul language, but with an R rating and a title like “Seven Psychopaths” those people are bound to not like the film from the start.
This film is one of the best of the year by far up there with “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Avengers.” 2012 has been a pretty slow year for films and music, but it’s always very reassuring to know that Hollywood will occasionally let quality triumph overused gimmicks and let someone poke fun at said gimmicks like the way McDonagh did with “Seven Psychopaths”