Thursday, 1 November 2012

Review: Seven Psychopaths

Year: 2012 (Viewed at the London Film Festival)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Screenplay: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Christopher Walken.

Synopsis is here:

After taking my podcast co-host on a needless, round about trip of the London West End to find a bank, we took our seats for our final film of the London Film Festival: Seven Psychopaths, the second full length feature from Martin McDonagh.. The reason I had to find a bank was so I could pay for the tickets, the price of the tickets were...more than your usual cinema venture. But when it's the European Premiere and features a talk with the director, you have to consider you don't get such things with an illegal download.
This is not a statement of confession, more a painting of a scene. It's certainly worth paying more to sit with an excited audience and laugh, giggle and guffaw at McDonagh's latest feature. A violent and offbeat tale of writers block, dognapping and gangsters, Seven Psychopaths is Pulp Fiction by way of Adaptation and Barton Fink. McDonagh's himself stated that the only real influences were Peckinpah and Malick (?!) but it's hard not to think of Kaufman and the Coens (The movies is scored by Carter Burwell) as the film goes on.

Frantic and madcap in its telling, Seven Psychopaths slides from flashback to present day to imagination without a moment’s notice. A film about losing focus which is constantly trying to distract with its famous faces and near meta aspects of plot. It can't be too much of a coincidence that Farrell, known for his risqué past, is shown here, as a wannabe Hollywood writer lost amidst a haze of hard liqueur. A man who could do really turn out a good piece of work as long as he keeps focus. It feels like McDonagh isn't just picking him due to In Bruges.

Farrell's role of straight man is sometimes a little caught up in the craziness of it all, which could be part of the fun. However for all its anarchic glee; the tale does like to go off on tangents, feeling frayed at the end, and coming off like Adaptation's brattier cousin. Kuffman's sublime comedy about "the process" has a deft of touch and sympathy that Psychopaths doesn't. Not a deal breaker by any means, but it does make you notice that Psychopaths suffers from some slight overkill. The film is just a tad too into itself to have a boarder scope.

I shouldn't be knocking too hard on the film which gives us the best Christopher Walken performance in years. Once again, Walken shows why he is rewarding in scenes of both menace and mirth, and does so with an ease that allows one to forget that they actually saw him in The Stepford Wives (or Balls of Fury for that matter).  It's difficult who steals the most scenes between himself and Sam Rockwell, whose balls to the wall performance climaxes a sequence of utter madness. Not to spoil things, but heads have not exploded that well since Scanners. Woody Harrelson sweeps things up as the films loopy antagonist.

For a film that is as all over the place such as this one (we go from dognapping to taking class A's in the desert with a lot of murder inbetween.) The film is never disengaging, like In Bruge, the films dialogue laddish, often ponderous dialogue sparkles, and the film keeps a certain amount of earnestly, despite it's know it all vibe. Like many festival films the film doesn't linger in the mind much, however, it's clear from the offset this isn't a film made to be heavy or filling. Like a grubby lads stag weekend in Magaluf, there's fun to be had, but you might have to be in with the crowd from the start to be comfortable with the injokes.