October 29, 2012

MOVIES: Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh, 2012)

What can you say about a movie in which Christopher Walken plays the least crazy person on screen? In which a pair of men commit suicide by slitting their own threats, and it plays as a brutally funny punchline? In which Tom Waits carries a fluffy bunny with him everywhere he goes?

The movie is Seven Psychopaths, and what I can say about it is that it's one of the funniest movies of the year. It's a comedy about small time Los Angeles crooks accidentally get on the bad side of a slightly bigger crook. It is extremely violent and bloody, but in a Tarantino-esque over-the-top way that is so far removed from reality that it crosses the line from gross to sickly funny.

Colin Farrell is a struggling screenwriter, whose best friend (Sam Rockwell) works with Christopher Walken, running a dog-napping scam; Rockwell kidnaps the dogs, and Walken returns them a few days later, collecting the rewards. The problems begin when they take Bonny, the beloved Shih Tzu of gangster Woody Harrelson.

The screenplay Farrell is struggling with is called Seven Psychopaths, and as the movie goes along, the movie we're watching and the movie Farrell's writing gradually become more and more caught up in a delightful tangle of meta. Martin McDonagh's dialogue crackles with wit and energy (an opening conversation in which two hitmen try to remember which famous person was shot through the eye is among the highlights).

Rockwell is the standout, playing a guy whose veneer of sanity slowly cracks throughout the movie; Walken has a smaller, less showy role, but gets plenty of laughs, and who can resist the thought of Walken wandering the desert on a peyote trip muttering about hallucinogens?

This is McDonagh's followup to In Bruges, and it serves as confirmation that he's one of the most entertaining writers and directors working today.

1 comment:

lethe1 said...

Thank you for this review!

I'm a big fan of Sam Rockwell, so will definitely be seeking this film out.