Saturday, January 12, 2013

Seven Psychopaths

This is Madness

With Seven Psychopaths, writer-director Martin McDonagh proved to be no flash in the pan with his well received In Bruges, reuniting with lead actor Colin Farrell in movie that the trailer didn't manage to show off its brilliance. This is something that deserves to be watched, pronto, with fantastic stories to tell of its characters, and has drama, comedy and action all rolled into one, presented in a manner that perhaps even Tarantino would be hard pressed to follow.

It's extremely self-referential and self-deprecating at times even, with McDonagh as the writer breathing life into one of three leading protagonists in Colin Farrell's Marty, a screenwriter facing a writer's block in trying to flesh out his latest idea revolving around seven psychopaths. Keen to help is best pal Billy (Sam Rockwell), an bit actor who's finding it more lucrative to be in the dog-kidnapping business together with their associate Hans (Christopher Walken), and provides Marty with directions and ideas to who the other titular psychopaths could be in his screenplay.

Which allows McDonagh to run riot with the various fantastical elements involving gun-slinging, battles, revenge, religion, and just about every noir and exploitation elements that he can think of. These little episodes of flash backs, or references, proved to be hits in taking the audience out of the present, and embracing these episodes as exaggerated tales spun out of real world references in the lives of the story-teller, protagonists or antagonists. There's a Jack of Hearts serial Killer with a penchant of leaving behind his calling card, inspired by real world incidents, an Amish parish out for vengeance on the killer who did the unthinkable to his daughter, a violent Bonnie and Clyde styled tag-team, and a Viet Cong out to seek revenge in the soil of the US, involving explosives, a hooker, and some crazy communication jokes.

All these centered around Billy dog-kidnapping Bonny, a shih tzu belonging to chief mobster Charlie (Woody Harrelson), and here's where all hell breaks loose. The violent nature of Charlie, usually involving shooting people without remorse so long as he can get his gun to work, trails the trio of Marty, Billy and Hans, inflicting personal damage as he gets closer to retrieving his dog. Here's where McDonagh's writing shines, in creating memorable characters put into memorable episodes with even more memorable dialogue to move the story forward. The conversations between characters are rapid fire, containing a wealth of information, anecdotes, and black comedy that will fly by extremely fast, making it well worth a second viewing.

What more, McDonagh ups the ante by making this extremely self-referential, almost coming close to parodying itself toward the closing stages, primed with graphic star-gazing into what could have been a ridiculously hilarious gun-blazing finale that has to be seen to be believed. Colin Farrell clearly got outshone by his co-stars, probably also because their characters were more flamboyant compared to his relatively muted one. Sam Rockwell is fast becoming a character actor to sit up and take note of if you hadn't already, tackling what would be a multi-faceted role as Billy, playing off the charisma of Christopher Walken really well, with the latter's character adding some soul to the film, with more than one gripping scene in the movie when he stood up against those out to get him.

What you can infer from the trailers and promotional material hardly scratched the surface of McDonagh's wonderful and brilliantly played out film, with its self-deprecating undertones and veiled criticisms, complete with sharp and snappy lines delivered by characters that you'd surprisingly care about, no matter how small their role are. Even McDonagh's own acknowledgement of his inability to craft strong female characters got a comical mention as well. A definite early shoo-in as one of the highlights of the year thus far with its great concept, so whatever you do, don't miss this!

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