Review: Seven Psychopaths (2012)

>> Sunday, March 24, 2013

USA/C-110m./Dir: Martin McDonagh/Wr: Martin McDonagh/Cast: Colin Farrell (Marty Faranan); Sam Rockwell (Billy Bickle); Christopher Walken (Hans Kieslowski); Woody Harrelson (Charlie Costello); Tom Waits (Zachariah Rigby); Abbie Cornish (Kaya); Linda Bright Clay (Myra); Bonny (Bonny the Shih Tzu)

In terms of quality, 2012 was an above average year at the multiplex.  Not only did it see the release of first rate films from many of the top directors working today (including The Master, Moonrise Kingdom,and Lincoln); it also featured slyly smart and amusing popcorn pictures (such as the brilliant Cabin In The Woods,Looper,and The Avengers).  Picking a “best” picture from the diverse group of well-crafted 2012 releases is a confounding task.  However, if asked what was the single most blissfully entertaining movie of the year, I would respond, “Seven Psychopaths” without hesitation.  

Seven Psychopathsis a feast of a movie.  It stars Colin Farrell as Marty, an alcoholic screenwriter who is having difficulty with his newest script, “Seven Psychopaths”—the problem being he’s only come up with one psychopath and he’d rather spend his time drinking.  Marty’s best pal, Billy (Sam Rockwell), an unemployed actor who kidnaps dogs on the side for reward money, desperately wants to help his friend finish the script, even if it means introducing Marty to real psychopaths.  Things take a dark turn for Marty, Billy, and Billy’s partner in the dog kidnapping biz, Hans (Christopher Walken), when Billy kidnaps a Shih Tzu owned by demented gangster Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson).  Add to the mix a serial killer with a playing card fetish, a bunny-toting vigilante (Tom Waits), and a pissed off girlfriend (Abby Cornish), and Marty is in for one hell of a drunken ride.

Seven Psychopaths is the type of film that is easy to dismiss as a smug writer’s exercise that is way up its own butt.  Marty’s script and the movie we are watching are given the same title, so when the onscreen characters discuss Marty’s script, they are usually commenting on the movie they are in.  The postmodern humor could easily become insufferable if Martin McDonagh’s screenplay wasn’t so darn smart and funny.  Luckily, the playwright turned filmmaker’s follow-up to his excellent In Bruges (2008)shows no signs of a sophomore slump.

Another thing that helps sell the challenging material is the socko cast.  Colin Farrell holds together the disparate elements of the story with an anxious, witty variation on the cliché of the alky screenwriter.  Christopher Walken brings both hilarity and emotional depth to the role of the pacifist of the group.  It’s one of his best turns in a career of great performances.  However, the real standout is Sam Rockwell as Billy.  McDonagh gives the character of Billy the juiciest material, and Rockwell squeezes every bit of nectar and pulp out of it.  If you’ve liked Sam Rockwell in previous movies, you’ll love him in this.  It is Sam Rockwell at his Sam Rockwellest.

If the idea of Pulp Fiction (1994)crossed with Adaptation (2002)sounds like a good time at the movies, than you owe it to yourself to check out Seven Psychopaths.  It is a decidedly well-mixed cocktail.

Drinks Consumed--White wine, margaritas, bourbon (Buffalo Trace), beer (Shiner Bock, Corona, and others), and unnamed cocktails

Intoxicating Effects--Hangover, memory blackouts, bickering, swearing, physical violence, and drunk driving

Potent Quotables--MARTY: I don’t have a drinking problem.  I just like drinking.
BILLY: Of course you do, Marty.  One, you’re a writer. Two, you’re from Ireland. It’s part of your heritage.  You’re fucked. 
MARTY: Fuck off now, Billy.  Seriously, just fuck off now.  I’m not in the fuckin’ mood!
BILLY: You’re fucked from birth.  Spanish have got bullfighting.  The French got cheese.  And the Irish have got alcoholism.

Video Availability--DVDand Blu-Ray(Sony)

Similarly Sauced Cinema
--Colin Farrell also drowned his sorrows with liquor in Martin McDonagh’s directorial debut, In Bruges (2008).

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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