Seven Psychopaths (London Film Festival review)

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Seven Psychopaths green light Colin Farrell Christophen Walken Sam Rockwell

I’m “biast” (pro): loved In Bruges, loved the trailer

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)


False advertising! There’s way more than seven psychopaths here — I count as many as 11 or perhaps even 12 psychopaths. Then again, very little about this twisted lark of a meta movie is what you’d expect it to be, even if you’ve reveled in the genius that is writer-director Martin McDonagh’s previous film, In Bruges. This feels, in fact, very much like McDonagh’s direct response to what we can only imagine was the industry’s response to Bruges. For he has made a movie — bursting with equal parts exasperation, despair, cultural criticism, and black comedy — about how he doesn’t want to make the kind of movie that Hollywood surely would like him to make, surely courted him to make after the success of Bruges. (It was probably too much to expect that he could actually get Hollywood to back such a film: this is a British production.) For his protagonist is an Irish screenwriter in Los Angeles called Marty (Colin Farrell: Fright Night)… who’s writing a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths… and it keeps ending up being full of pointless, misogynistic violence even though Marty doesn’t “want it to be one more movie about guys with guns in their hands” and laments how Hollywood objectifies women and normalizes violence against them. In between bouts of Marty’s creative, alcoholic angst, he tries to crib ideas from his small-time-crook pals Billy (Sam Rockwell: The Sitter) and Hans (Christopher Walken: Balls of Fury), who have a good sideline going in kidnapping pampered pooches only to collect the rewards later offered by heartbroken dog owners. And that’s only three psychopaths so far — Marty is a little bit psychopathic, but perhaps only in a self-destructive way — or four, if you count Hollywood itself (which I think we should). McDonagh plays in wonderfully depraved ways with Hollywood depictions of violence and the expectations that we’ve come to hold because of those tropes, but this is more anti-action movie than anything else, a Moebius strip of a creative therapy session that folds in on itself and comes full, twisted circle by the time it has exhausted itself, in gasps-of-laughter fashion. Rockwell and Walken — plus Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games) as another psychopath — are in fine form doing their usual kooky schtick, which works even better with McDonagh’s snappy, thinky dialogue. But once again, as with Bruges, the most delightful thing here is Farrell. McDonagh so far is the only filmmaker who has realized that Farrell is funny, and in a bitter, gloomy, hilariously melancholy way. So very Irish… but so very not Hollywood.

viewed during the 56th BFI London Film Festival

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Jurgan
Jurgan
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 1:07pm

I’ve been looking forward to this one, but your review surprised me.  You make this sound like Adaptation.  That’s not a bad thing.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jurgan
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 1:56pm

It does bear some similarites to Adaptation.

mir
mir
reply to  Jurgan
Wed, Dec 12, 2012 5:50am

Adaptation was the movie I was talking about as I left the theater after seeing Seven Psychopaths. :)

Paul Wartenberg
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 3:44pm

Of all the Walken movies you had to link to, you chose Balls of Fury?  I mean, okay, he’s the only reason to see that movie, but why not link to The Rundown or Pulp Fiction or Catch Me If You Can?  You could have linked to the youtube video of “Asian People Impersonating The Walken” and make better sense…

Jonathan Roth
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 11:11pm

Standard practice is the link to the most recent review she’s done featuring them.

I’m just surprised that she hasn’t reviewed a movie with Walken since Balls of Fury. 

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jonathan Roth
Sat, Dec 08, 2012 12:48am

His only more recent film I’ve seen is Dark Horse. Which I haven’t reviewed yet. But it’s a red light, so it wouldn’t be a positive review anyway.

Walken actually hasn’t done much of significance in recent years.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Sat, Dec 08, 2012 12:46am

What Jonathan Roth said. I link to the most recent review or reviews of a work someone is connected to. That’s it. There is no commentary in those links, just a hope that it might encourage readers to stick around. It’s good for SEO, too, apparently.

FormerlyKnownAsBill
FormerlyKnownAsBill
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 4:09pm

i love ‘in bruges’ so much; can’t wait to see this one. that cast is out of control good.

Karl Morton IV
Karl Morton IV
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 7:58pm

I wish I could skywrite your observation that Colin Farrell can be funny over Hollywood. I swear one can FEEL him straining at the bit in “Fright Night” and “Total Recall” – but, then, the latter didn’t know what to do with Bryan Cranston either, did it?

Christopher Walken’s cravat scene might be my new favorite (among many, obviously) of his.

Killara29
Killara29
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 8:34pm

I liked it. Colin Farrel should only make movies with McDonagh though.

RogerBW
RogerBW
Fri, Dec 07, 2012 9:30pm

Okay… that’s a whole meta level I wasn’t expecting. On the list…

CB
CB
Sat, Dec 08, 2012 7:54am

 

For his protagonist is [snip] writing a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths…
and it keeps ending up being full of pointless, misogynistic violence
even though Marty doesn’t “want it to be one more movie about guys with
guns in their hands” and laments how Hollywood objectifies women and
normalizes violence against them.

And does this mean that the movie itself ends up being full of pointless, misogynistic violence that’s therefore supposed to be “ironic”?  

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  CB
Mon, Jan 14, 2013 9:57pm

I don’t think it is, no.

3eyes
3eyes
Thu, Mar 07, 2013 5:43pm

I’d say Farrell is funny (tongue-in-cheek) in Tigerland, Phone Booth, and Intermezzo. I agree with you that Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with him.

2eyes
2eyes
reply to  3eyes
Thu, Mar 07, 2013 5:43pm

correction : Intermission.

Mary Wogan
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 9:33pm

I found this film awful…however I love In Bruges…Colin Farrell is kind of brilliant in some films and awful in others. Speaking as an Irish person (born in same hospital as Colin ha ha) I think he needs to pick his roles better. He’s great in True Detective…I could just sit looking at his mournful face. ☺

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Mary Wogan
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 9:55pm

Oh, wait till you see *The Lobster* later this year. Farrell is amazing and weird in it.