Thursday Night Movie Club
Seven Psychopaths
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Release Date: 12 October 2012

Director: Martin McDonagh
Sam Rockwell
Colin Farrell
Abbie Cornish
Christopher Walken
Woody Harrelson
Tom Waits
Olga Kurylenko
Long Nguyen
Harry Dean Stanton
Linda Bright Clay
Helena Mattsson
Bonny the ShihTzu
Vietnamese Priest
Man in Hat
Blonde Lady
Seven Psycopaths movie poster #1 SevenPsycopaths movie poster #2 Seven Psycopaths movie poster #3
Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell in Seven PsycopathsThis film starts with two hitmen standing in the middle of a dam waiting for their target to jog passed them. They are mindlessly shooting the breeze blissfully unaware of a man wearing a hood and a mask who silently walks up behind them and shoots them both in the back of the head. He throws down two Jack of Diamonds playing cards as his signature. If you are not laughing at the absurdity of this situation, Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths is not for you.

Seven Psychopaths is absurd, funny, brutal, touching and wacky. This is a screwball comedy with a couple of screws loose. Marty (Colin Farrell) is a screenwriter with a serious case of writer's block. All he has written so far is an intriguing title "Seven Psychopaths". Marty's good friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) helps him out. He tells Marty about the shooting of the two hitmen and Marty has Psychopath #1: a psychopath who tracks down and murders hit men. Marty is well on his way to Oscar stardom!

Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell in Seven PsycopathsBilly has another proposal for Marty. He will tell Marty a story about another psychopath for a share of the screenwriting credits. In this story, a man is hounded for his past sins by a mysterious stranger in black clothes and a wide brimmed hat. He decides that the only way he can escape this man is to commit suicide and thus go to Hell. The last thing he sees after slicing open his neck is the stranger cutting his own throat and thus joining him in Hell. Marty is impressed. What a great story!

Billy and his partner Hans (Christopher Walken) have a money-making business of their own. They kidnap dogs from wealthy people, wait for a reward to be posted and then return the dog on the premise that they found the dog. They reluctantly accept the reward.

Everything runs smoothly until they kidnap the wrong dog, a Shih Tzu from Charlie (Woody Harrelson). Charlie is a gangster used to having his way. He will use every resource available to track down and kill those responsible. Holding him back is the fact that Charlie is so enamored with this dog that he wants the dog returned safely first.

Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell in Seven PsycopathsScreen writer McDonagh is brilliant in setting up the absurdity quickly, then making the situation even more absurd before finally wrapping up the loose ends. Director McDonagh, as with his previous film "In Bruges", keeps a tight rein on his cast. For the absurdity to work, the actors must play their parts with a straight face and no unnecessary emoting. The actors must be fully grounded in the absurdity for the film to work. McDonagh shoots the flash-back sequences of the pshychopath's stories in a dreamlike fashion. This technique makes it difficult to separate fiction from reality. But in McDonagh's world view, there is no fiction.

Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell in Seven PsycopathsIn his world, all of these psychopaths are, in some ways, bumbling fools propelled and somewhat hindered by their single-minded purpose. They begin to see the world with blinders on, looking forward only. Charlie is so obsessed with finding his dog, he can't recognize his dogknapper sitting right across from him. Christopher Walken does and excellent job making Woody Harrelson's gangster squirm uncomfortably as Hans removes his cravat and insists Charlie take it. The cravat hides a scar across Hans' neck where he tried to kill himself with a straight razor.

Tom Waits is also excellent as Zacharia (Psychopath #6). To help Marty's screenplay, Billy took out a newspaper ad seeking psychopaths to tell their story. Zacharia is not merely psycho, he is loony as the day is long. He constantly holds onto a white rabbit. A white rabbit??. When Marty first meets Zacharia, all he wants to do is get out as soon as possible. By the time Zacharia finishes his story, Marty is in a state of stunned fascination.

Colin Farrell and Sam Rockwell in Seven PsycopathsCompleting the list of Seven Pshychopaths are Kaya (Abbie Cornish) Angela (Olga Kurylenko). This being a man's world, neither of the two actresses have much to do or add to the overall story. Their characters are not as well developed as the male parts and their screen time is very limited. Rather unfortunate.

Martin McDonagh writes and directs his films similar to that of Quentin Tarantino. Unfortunately, he has not yet found the spark of magic to excite the masses. This reviewer doesn't care. I am anxiously awaiting McDonagh's next film. If your sense of humor is a little off kilter, you will certainly enjoy Seven Psychopaths.