Now showing @ Cornerhouse… Reviewed: Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths

By Robbie Gill

From director Martin McDonagh, the creative mind behind In Bruges, comes Seven Psychopaths – a film about a screenwriter who becomes embroiled in Los Angeles’ underworld.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is a heavy drinker who has a name for his film but no script and no hope of changing his situation.

His friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) is an unhinged dog-napper who wants Marty’s film to follow the familiar formula of merciless violence and an epic shoot-out finale.

When Billy inadvertently steals a cherished Shih Tzu from a psychotic gangster, Charlie (Woody Harrelson), the pair become entwined in LA’s criminal world.

Throughout the film Marty meets an increasing number of shady characters – drawing inspiration for the seven psychopaths his film requires.

Christopher Walken gives a typically philosophical performance as Hans, a religious man with a violent past, and also takes an active role in the development of Marty’s screenplay.

From a powerful tale about a vengeful Quaker, depicted by Harry Dean Stanton, to a Vietnamese priest come Buddhist, the cast begins to assemble.

At one stage, in response to an advert placed in the newspaper, Marty returns home to find an instable character that travelled the country killing serial killers with his now lost girlfriend.

As the narrative unfolds the lines between the fictional world in Marty’s film become blurred with that of McDonagh’s as they play out their roles in their own life’s film.

It is a clever idea, but not quite as clever or original as it professes to be – this can be traced all the way back to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

The allusions to Tarrantino are clear in both style and cast and while Marty tries to avoid his own film becoming a blood fest, it does begin to resemble the exact thing he is determined to avoid.

Marty’s plight can feel mildly tedious at times but the overriding wonder of the cinematics in the desert and all the black humour that you would expect are more than enough to outweigh this.

McDonagh’s latest creation is both well-crafted and entertaining and the blurred lines of fact and fiction provide an interesting subtext.

While this may not reach the heights scaled with In Bruges it does not detract from a compelling experience.

Picture courtesy of Momentum Pictures, with thanks

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