Sunday, October 21, 2012

Movie Review: "Seven Psychopaths"

The new film from Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), Seven Psychopaths is twisted, violent, hysterically funny, even surprisingly tender at times.

Marty (Colin Farrell) is a struggling screenwriter, who may or may not have a drinking problem, depending on whom you ask. His relationship with girlfriend, Kaya (Abbie Cornish) is going sour, but his best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell, gleefully twisted) is looking out for him, trying to get him to stop drinking, and volunteering to help write Marty's latest movie, called (what else) Seven Psychopaths.

Billy is running a bit of a scheme kidnapping dogs or, as he calls it, "borrowing" dogs, then returning them to the owners and getting paid a reward. His partner in this scheme, Hans (Christopher Walken, doing his best Christopher Walken), is a religious pacifist with a passion for peyote and an ailing wife. One day, Billy unwittingly kidnaps the beloved shih tzu of Charlie, a gangster (Woody Harrelson) who really loves his dog. Charlie will stop at nothing to get his dog back.

Marty accidentally gets tangled up in Charlie's mission to rescue his dog and make the kidnappers pay, while at the same time trying to reconcile his vision for his screenplay with Billy's, who imagines it ending in a final shootout and blaze of glorious violence. And then Marty makes another startling discovery about his friend, which sets many wheels into motion.

This movie gleefully skewers movies, particularly gratuitously violent ones, while turning criminal stereotypes on their ears. Farrell does a terrific job as a man struggling with his own demons who suddenly is confronted with someone else's, and Rockwell has never seemed more comfortable playing a joyful psychopath. Harrelson combines bravado and vulnerability to great comic effect, but the movie belongs to Christopher Walken, who is at times a parody of every Walkenesque character he's played, but is a man with surprising depth and intelligence, resigned to the fate that lies in front of him.

There is a good deal of violence in this movie, so it may not be for the faint of heart, but it is truly worth watching, for the twisted plot, the humor that will leave you laughing out loud, and the sly performances. And be sure to stay through the credits—there's a last minute gem stuck in the middle.

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