Seven Psychopaths: Star-Studded Crime Comedy
Abbie CornishChristopher Walken...
Following his successful
breakthrough comedy-drama, In Bruges (2008), writer-director Martin
McDonagh is reunited with Irish bad-boy, Collin Farrell, for another crack at dark
Seven Psychopaths follows struggling Irish screenwriter, Marty
(Farrell), who is experiencing every writer’s nightmare – a severe case of
writer’s block. So far, he’s only got
the working title for his next film project worked out – Seven Psychopaths –
but, the rest of the story isn’t so forthcoming. With nothing but a few measly ideas scribbled
on scraps of paper, Marty’s personal hell soon sees the writer sinking deeper
and deeper into anxiety and alcoholism.
He finds encouragement
in his best-bud Billy (Rockwell), who along with his partner-in-crime, Hans
(Walken), makes his living in the dog-pinching business. Unfortunately, stealing dogs from their
wealthy owners – and later returning them for the reward money – goes awry when
Billy nabs a dog belonging to murderous gangster, Charlie (Harrelson).
Before long, the
fictional story of Seven Psychopaths – the one Marty has been struggling
to bring to life – becomes real and the careworn writer soon begins to live right
in the middle of his own story.
Set in the seedy
Hollywood hills, before moving on to the Californian desert, Seven
Psychopaths is presented as a film about making a film, when in actual
fact, it’s a film about not making a film; the obstacles to success are not
overcome and there is no triumphant final act bringing all of the elements
together. Although the story’s unusual premise offers a few rather amusing
moments, there isn’t much else to hold onto.
Seven Psychopaths also feels a little too
self-conscious and restrained. McDonagh – just like his central character – has some serious struggles of his own; a
lot of the sequences feel forced and after a banging start, the film loses momentum
and withers away as it gets lost in its own self-referential pseudo-philosophy.
The film furthers its
suffering by not taking full advantage of its star-studded Hollywood cast. Cameos from Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton are completely
wasted and Rockwell’s verbal diarrhoea is a little too much to take. On a positive note, Farrell has no problem in
nailing the good-for-nothing drunk, while Harrelson and Walken deliver like the
pros they are.
On the whole, Seven
Psychopaths is meta-gangster film wannabe – if even that. Over-written and a little too aware of itself,
the film never develops into anything more than an occasionally amusing mishmash.
What starts of as an intricate narrative
descends into absurdity very quickly.