So you’ve seen In Bruges right? No??? Go watch it, right now. I’ll wait… pretty awesome stuff. This is that guy’s new movie. Excited yet? You should be. Martin McDonagh‘s follow up to his critically acclaimed hitman flick has all the hallmarks of an entertaining tour-de-force, and with an A-list cast along for the ride, is there any reason to believe this one doesn’t deliver the goods? Find out below:
This is one of the most delightfully a-symmetric movies you will ever see. The structure, such as there is, makes up a dizzyingly evolving narrative that continually reframes itself in different contexts and styles, adapting to the ever changing landscape of a dog kidnapping gone very, very wrong. Every time you think you’ve managed to figure out where the film is going, another curve ball flies across the plate, and the chaos makes for one of the most surprising and enjoyable trips to the cinema I’ve had in quite some time. I doubt there’s much that could ruin the plot of this one, but just in case you haven’t got the basic gist yet, I’ll endeavor to outline it for you in as spoiler-free a manner as possible.
Martin (Collin Ferrell) is a writer, working on crafting a script without a plot, a project that so far only consists of a title… you guessed it… Seven Psychopaths. Sam Rockwell is Billy, Martin’s best friend, who has a small con game running on the side in the form of a dog kidnapping business. Hans (Christopher Walken) is the kind-looking elderly man who returns the stolen dogs, and the three of them make up the core protagonists of the movie. Martin appears to be a surrogate for the film’s writer/director, Martin McDonagh, and the whole project is self aware in a wonderfully entertaining fashion, with numerous references to screenwriting and storytelling peppering an already hilarious script. When the trio accidentally kidnap the dog of a crime boss (Woody Harrelson), the wheels come off the cart so to speak, and their relatively relaxed lives begin to spiral out of control. Think a grittier version of The Coen Brothers, yet with a more lighthearted streak to the dialogue. To describe the mix as “odd” would be an understatement, but if you’ve ever read anything written by Martin McDonagh, you’ll understand. As a big fan of his first feature, In Bruges, I am incredibly satisfied with his sophomore effort, and can’t wait to see where he goes next.
A film with a title like Seven Psychopaths would appear to imply an extensive ensemble, and it’s definitely a big part of what makes the movie work. Besides the leads, there are great supporting turns from Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, and Tom Waits as a particularly disturbing and hilarious psychopath who answers a newspaper advertisement that Billy posts to give Martin some inspiration for his script. He spends almost his entire screen-time walking around holding a bunny… and it’s an example of how absurd the film can be while still managing to remain grounded. Characters can be quirky, but the setting is relentlessly harsh and stripped down, leaving the stage wide open for some of the funniest (and bloodiest) sequences in recent memory. McDonagh is one of the few screenwriters who can make you laugh even while a character is getting shot in the head, and as an audience you have to appreciate the literary dexterity it takes to pull that off. On more than one occasion you’ll be questioning your emotional response to the event that just occurred, and may even learn a little something about yourself in the process.
Seven Psychopaths is a singular filmgoing experience, and the kind of movie that really should be seen with a crowd. Once it gets rolling, there’s nothing to slow it down, and the snowball effect yields some of the most off-the-wall batshit insanity you’ll see this season. I can’t recommend it enough, as long as you have the stomach for little bit of brutality thrown in between your whimsy. You’ll know within the first five minutes if this is a movie for you, and trust me, it all pays off in the end. Literally, EVERYTHING gets a payoff, and that just serves to make me love the film even more.
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