Review of Seven Psychopaths


For his follow-up to “In Bruges”, director Martin McDonagh has assembled a cast touched upon by the eccentric-comedy gods. Everything about “Seven Psychopaths” defies convention and logic, an asset that adds to the outright lunacy on display. I loved how over-the-top it is, both in its bloody violence (people set afire, heads sawed off, a sequence so dementedly funny I don't even want to ruin it) and willingness to go for the most ridiculous laugh possible.

McDonagh also gets points for being one of the only filmmakers in Hollywood to know how to use Colin Farrell; the two also worked together on “Bruges”. Farrell plays Marty, a writer fascinated by psycho-killers who’s actually writing a screenplay called “Seven Psychopaths”, just he’s come down with a case of writers block and he also happens to be….a pacifist. The chemistry he has with Sam Rockwell, playing his best friend Billy, is comedy gold. Billy is nihilistic and wild, intent on getting into at least one shoot-out in his life and has a matter-of-fact way of calling bullshit on various subjects, including the sayings of Gandhi. With all this, he’s also very concerned about Marty’s drinking problem. Billy and his buddy Hans (Christopher Walken) have a dog-kidnapping scam going and this throws the three of them into the sights of gangster Charlie Castaldo (Woody Harrelson).

Most of the laughs come from just how looney these characters are allowed to be and McDonagh expertly keeps all this oddness going, sometimes cutting in stories of psychopaths from Marty’s script, like the hilarious Quaker Psychopath (Harry Dean Stanton) story, while at the same time following the Tarantino mold of creating satire and emotional resonance from acts of brutality. There’s no one who gives a better line reading than Walken and Harrelson's ruthlessly obsessive dog-lover is perfect. Musician and actor Tom Waits also shows up here as one half of a serial killing duo who kill other serial killers. “Seven Psychopaths” is a weird, inventive, and gut-bustingly funny movie.