PICKIN' ON FILM: 'Seven Psychopaths' delivers on point
JOHN BRAGG III, Post Columnist
Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:00 am
The other night I sat down to watch Martin McDonagh’s film “Seven Psycopaths” and came to the conclusion that he is one of the most talented writers and directors working today.
McDonagh was born in London, England, to Irish parents and began his career in the mid-1990s writing for the stage. After winning awards for his plays, he focused his attention to screenwriting.
His first film was “Six Shooter,” a black comedy that garnered him a 2005 Academy Award and cemented his place into the realm of film, which he followed up with “In Bruges.”
I’ve written a few times about “In Bruges” because it’s one of my favorite movies.
What I love even more about it is that it is set in the idyllic, preserved town that seems to have been untouched since the 1100s. The city provided an amazing backdrop to McDonagh’s tale about two London hit men sent to the Flemish city after a botched job.
It’s a hilarious take on a violent film, and I was hoping “Seven Psycopaths” would live up to my expectations.
It did, more than I thought was possible.
The movie is based around an Irish screenwriter named Martin (Colin Farrell) who is working on a script about seven psychotic killers.
While he has an outline for what the film should be he has no idea what to write about, so he spends his time drinking and trying to form ideas.
Through Martin we meet Billy (Sam Rockwell), a friend who doubles as a dog thief.
He goes to various parks around L.A. stealing people’s dogs then going to their house to reap the reward after keeping the pups for a few days.
Things go well enough until Billy steals a shih tzu from a psychopathic gangster who turns out to be one of the seven mentioned in the title.
The gangster is very protective of his dog, so he sends his men out to find it.
What happens next involves all seven psychopaths, Billy, and Martin. Things get absolutely insane for the rest of the movie, but I’ll leave you to find that out.
What I was very glad to see from McDonagh in this film was the talent that made “In Bruges” so great.
I loved the acting, the amazingly funny and poignant dialogue, as well as the great attention to detail he can store in the screen in both films.
The angle that makes this film different from “In Bruges” is the fact it’s overtly obvious the director wrote himself into the movie.
We see Martin as a depressed, thought-starved writer trying desperately to grind out a script while the world around him changes dynamically because of situations outside of his control.
Another reason why “Seven Psychopaths” is so fun to watch is McDonagh used a trick out of Wes Anderson’s playbook and threw tons of references to other movies in his dialogue.
At the beginning, two gangsters are discussing Moe Green from “The Godfather.”
The dog thief Billy has the last name Bickle, a direct reference to Robert DeNiro’s character in “Taxi Driver,” and McDonagh wrote a part about the Zodiac Killer into the script.
The references are a great addition to the other awesome twists in the plot.
If you’re a fan of “In Bruges,” “The Boondock Saints,” or anything by Martin Scorcese you must check this film out.
It’s a bloody, hilarious take on a gangster film.
I’d expect nothing less from McDonagh.