Monday, October 15, 2012


Ensemble casts can be a tricky business. Not only do you have to juggle egos and evenly distribute screentime, but you also need to make sure that the many famous faces in your film don’t just appear for the sake of having a famous face. In Martin McDonagh’s SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, which stars Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Michael Pitt, Kevin Corrigan, Olga Kurylenko, and Harry Dean Stanton, finding the formula for success was easy; just let your actors do what they do best.
Marty (Farrell), is a struggling screenwriter who cannot find a way to finish his new screenplay, entitled (ahem), SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. His best friend Billy (Rockwell), who is a dog-thief with his partner Hans (Walken), wants to help but is now being chased by the notorious gangster Charlie (Harrelson), whose dog he has just stolen. Marty gets all the material he needs to pen his screenplay as they run from Charlie and a mysterious serial killer who kills serial killers.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS is a clever story within a story. It centers around Marty, Billy, and Hans as they flee from Charlie and in doing so, discover elements from each other’s past which become inspiration for the screenplay. Most of the movie involves side-stories of the “psychopaths” which exist, or have existed in real life and how they fit into Marty’s story. The non-linear approach may be frustrating to some who prefer a straightforward method of storytelling with a clear endgame, and many of the “sidebar” stories seem a little extraneous. However, by movie’s end it does pay off. But besides that, PSYCHOPATHS is so smartly written, with witty dialogue and plenty of twists and turns (and lotsa bloodshed), that you often don’t mind the breaks from the main story.
While the writing is great, the acting is even better. Director Martin McDonagh just lets every actor in his film play to their strengths. Rockwell gets to be a weirdo, Harrelson gets to ham it up and have fun, and Walken gets to be…Walken. And it is in Walken where the film really finds its heart. Walken puts on a marvelous performance, playing goofy, quirky, spooky and heartbroken all at the same time.

PSYCHOPATHS feels like it takes a long while to wrap up with its multiple storylines, but hang in there and the payoff will feel pretty good. The storytelling and sharpness of PSYCHOPATHS makes it feel very inspired by PULP FICTION, and it makes for a bloody good time at the theatre.


1 comment:

  1. Very goofy flick, but also one that really kept me involved the whole time with it’s wild, dark, and sinister-like humor. Loved it just about from start to finish, and can’t complain about anything else. Great review Alan.


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