Due to my enjoyment of the cult-classic In Bruges (2008), Martin McDonagh’s film Seven Psychopaths became one of my most anticipated of 2012. The only concern I had going into the film was whether McDonagh’s creativity and audacity would remain in the Hollywood format? It was only fitting that the film turned out to be a Hollywood film making fun of their first Hollywood film. I’ll try to explain.
The film is an overwhelming self-parody. Marty (Colin Farrell) is an alcoholic screenwriter who is battling his latest bout of writer’s block. His screenplay, titled Seven Pychopaths, so far only includes scene titles and ideas for potential psychopaths within the film. However, the difference between real life and Marty’s imagination are sometimes warped. For instance, in the opening scene we watch two fictional Italian hit men waiting to whack some women, but while they are bickering an unknown serial killer comes up behind them and whacks them both. This serial killer is then introduced as the first psychopath.
Marty’s friend, Billy, (Sam Rockwell), realizes Marty is struggling with writer’s block and tries to help him come up with ideas. Billy puts an ad out in the paper calling for a personal meeting with all psychopaths. Billy even searches through newspaper articles looking for serial killers in the area to provide Marty with ideas. As it turns out the serial killer that whacked the hit men is real. Coincidence?
Throughout the film we are slowly introduced to several psychopaths that are both real and fictional. Sometimes the fictional psychopaths turn out to be real psychopaths. Sometimes one psychopath turns out to be multiple psychopaths. It is confusing, but remains bizarrely fun as more and more psychopaths begin to surface. Heck, even Tom Waits makes an appearance as a psychopath, all the while holding a white rabbit in a dapper suit.
As the film progresses all characters begin to play a self-parody of their Hollywood persona. Christopher Walken ups his Walken and Sam Rockwell crazies his crazy. While McDonagh pokes fun at his first Hollywood film he sneakily incorporates everything we both love and hate from a Hollywood blockbuster: boobs, gratuitous violence, and a shootout at the end. He even makes fun of the fact that all women’s characters are one-sided and eventually killed in every blockbuster film. He then goes on to kill every one-sided female character in the film. My favorite part of the film is when Marty says he wants the second half of the film to have more dialogue and be about peace and love. Billy becomes enraged and screams: ‘What are we making, French movies now?’ They then go out to the desert, take peyote and discuss their actions for almost the remainder of the film.
Overall, the film can be seen as a bit messy in parts, but I found it to be quite funny and sharp. Any chance to see Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson act like psychopaths is all right by me.