It’s a film about seven psychopaths, what more do you need?
Martin McDonagh rose to fame when his stunning short Six Shooter won an Oscar in 2005, but his true breakthrough came three years later with his triumphantly foul-mouthed feature debut In Bruges. The Irish filmmaker’s Tarantino-esque style that blends sharp writing, hyper-violence and killer dialogue was the success behind these previous projects. His latest film, a crime-comedy caper that boasts an ensemble cast, is sure to draw more comparisons to the cult director and cements his position among the most exciting emerging filmmakers.
Excitingly, Seven Psychopaths sees Colin Farrell reunited with the director who moulded his finest performance, but in a very different role. While for In Bruges he starred as a hot-tempered, troubled hitman laying low in a quiet Belgian city, here he’s much more subdued as a screenwriter struggling with his latest script. There’s a great understanding between director and actor which really benefits the film. Even when the character’s two eccentric friends kidnap a notorious gangster’s beloved pet Shih Tzu, in an attempt to inspire him, and the trio become entangled in Los Angeles’ dangerously unpredictable criminal underworld he remains tempered.
McDonagh takes traditional comedy techniques and cuts them with his own familiar black comedy stylings. Farrell is restrained throughout the film and is used as the straight-man, bemused by what’s going on, which allows for the almighty support cast to explode around him. Farrell’s subtlety makes room for Walken, Harrelson, Rockwell and Waits ho accept the invitation and each provide energetic and hilarious performances.
Though it’s clearly not directly linked to McDonagh’s personal life, there’s a hint of an autobiographical tone that lingers throughout the film – it’s hard to ignore that the protagonist’s name is Marty and he works as a screenwriter within Hollywood. However, instead of a definitive memoir, McDonagh takes his industry experiences as influence. The result is a stunningly self-referential narrative that cleverly parodies the visible clichés of cinema.
Unfortunately, all of McDonagh’s good work is let down by a significantly lacking conclusion. While the characters continue to shine and the priceless one-liners come thick and fast, it really lacks a memorable finale. On the whole it’s not as well rounded as In Bruges, but it’s a clever and thoroughly enjoyable follow up nonetheless and McDonagh remains a director who we should all be paying serious attention to.