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‘Seven Psychopaths’ Review


Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is struggling with a combination of alcoholism and writer’s block. He is desperately trying to write his latest screenplay, which revolves around seven psychopaths, who, Faranan insists, must find peace in the end to avoid ending like any other Hollywood film involving psychopaths. His best friend, Billy Bickle, played by a show-stealing Sam Rockwell, is an actor who also makes a living stealing dogs before returning them to their owners in exchange for monetary reward. It is business as usual for Bickle and his partner Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken) until Bickle kidnaps mob boss Charlie Costello’s (Woody Harrelson) cute, pocket-size Shih-Tzu, Bonnie. Moreover, Bickle plans on keeping it for good. The absence of Bonnie drives Costello into a violent search that thrusts Bickle, Kieslowski and a wary Faranan into all sorts of exciting, adventurous trouble.

Suffice to say, eccentricity is not exactly hard to come by in Seven Psychopaths. Similar to writer-director Marty McDonagh’s debut feature film In Bruges, also starring Farrell, violence and lively, comedic dialogue reign supreme. However, the comedy seldom becomes lighthearted enough to overshadow the film’s melancholic undertones and abundance of violence. Indeed, there are a handful of moments – particularly the cutaway scenes describing certain “psychopaths’” – that will make you want to shed a tear in sadness as opposed to laughter, making the film rather darker than its trailers and TV commercials make it out to be. That said, that does not make the film any less watchable.

The film’s many layers and intertwining tales provide an exhilarating backdrop for some solid acting. Kieslowski is played calmly and coolly as only Walken can pull off so brilliantly, and Farrell is utterly convincing as the miserable, reluctant Faranan, a character who is quite similar to his previous McDonagh role, Ray from In Bruges. Nonetheless, it is Rockwell, as aforementioned, who steals the show. His crude goofiness and unpredictable, haywire behavior make him riveting to watch. Tom Waits, as growly as ever, also joins the fun with a brief, yet memorable, involvement in proceedings. Waits’ character, I should add, carries a white rabbit with him at all times. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that I have not seen on-screen personalities this quirky or entertaining since Pulp Fiction.

Although the building up of the action is relatively slow to begin with, the film’s gripping finale is worth the ticket price alone. In fact, the entirety of the film’s third act, set in the desert, is a true treat for the audience and contains some of the most entertaining scenes I have seen in the past year. An Academy Award nomination for McDonagh for Best Original Screenplay may seem a long shot, but it would not entirely surprise me.

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