CRIMEWATCH: Seven Psychopaths
Seven Psychopaths (2012) was a movie that I had strongly anticipated. I wasn’t able to see it until recently, because unfortunately the movie had only a limited release, and wasn’t available anywhere near me. I was not disappointed, I was however surprised. I expected a fast paced action comedy film, what I got was a much deeper story that came off as very personal to the writer/director Martin McDonagh.
One of the main characters played by Colin Farrell is Martin McDonagh himself. Farrell is a writer who is actually writing the movie that we’re watching. When I first heard this I thought it would just be gimmicky and pointless, but thankfully that’s not the case. This concept ends up being very interesting and is crucial to the plot. In the film an ad is placed in the paper calling all psychopaths to an audition. I feel like the writer may have been struggling for an idea much like the character in the film, and contemplated putting an ad in the paper too. The film might be what he thinks could have happened if he had.
The film has a great cast: Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, and Sam Rockwell all give very good performances. Their characters are surprisingly rich and multilateral. I was really surprised how layered some of these characters actually were. A movie called Seven Psychopaths better have some f*cking good psychopaths, but I didn’t expect the emotional complexity that I found. Especially in Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken. The entire movie has a very deep and personal glaze over it that raises the film up a couple levels.
The movie has many subplots, which are great but at first felt a little out of place. They all end up tying together really nicely by the end. There are segments where we go to a character’s imagining of the plot. We hear him narrate over events that take place outside of the main story arc.
The cinematography on the whole movie is good, but it was exceedingly more impressive in the imagined sequences. I believe this was done on purpose because these moments are supposed to be a “movie” the other parts are supposed to be real life. Adding an extra coat of visual gloss to these sections helps distinguish between the different parts of the film in a very stylistic way. They could have easily been done sloppily, but they are all fully fleshed out ideas in regards to the relevance of the plot. These mini-stories are actually complex and interesting enough to be worthy of their own films.
This film is also very funny. The trailers made the film look like a straight up comedy, but that aspect is really more of a side attraction to the complete story, which is a benefit rather than a hindrance. The comedy works because the cast is full of naturallly funny people who know how to deliver even serious lines in a comedic way. Most of the laughs come from the contradiction of popular movie stereotypes. The film almost begins to deconstruct other films of it’s genre for comedy. The writing is funny, and the excellent delivery from the actors makes the movie a very entertaining ride.
As well as being humorous the movie is very violent but not in a detractive way. It is either used to further the plot or for the sake of comedy. There’s no violence for the sake of disgusting the viewers or for the sake of simply having violence. It’s used in a fun over the top way, but not past the border of ridiculousness. Shooting, stabbing, even burning are all present but none are undeserved.
Seven Psychopaths is one of the best and most original films of the year. It makes me want to follow the director Martin McDonagh who has only done one other feature film In Bruges which I’ve heard good things about, and intend on seeing. I look forward to more films from him in the future.