If Martin McDonagh needs to take four years between every release, he’s welcome to do so as long as they come out like this. In Bruges was very good, but Seven Psychopaths is a step up, and that’s not just because there’s a dog in it. McDonagh has returned with another dark comedy, this time set in Los Angeles. Seven Psychopaths follows a constantly drunk screenwriter (Farrell) and his slightly unhinged friends (Walken and Rockwell) who accidentally get involved with a gangster (Woody Harrelson) when his Shih Tzu goes missing.
Colin Farrell shouldn’t be allowed to do anything but this type of film. He’s hilarious as the despairing friend with a bottle of whisky attached to his hand who puts up with jibes about being Irish. Granted, he’s basically playing the same character as he was in In Bruges but this time it works better. Maybe it’s because of the dog. Sam Rockwell’s character is just the right side of insane, albeit borderline, but it’s Christopher Walken who steals the film. In one fell swoop towards the end, the film becomes his. It’s his best role in years, although that’s not saying much, but it’s great to see him back on form. He plays a retired man with a wife in hospital who makes a living by stealing people’s dogs and returning them for the reward. At first he’s a man enjoying life, but as the film progresses and he becomes more tangled in the escapades surrounding Bonnie, he grows weary until his character’s resolution. He’s the best character out of the lot of them, closely followed by Tom Waits and his rabbit.
There’s a point, about halfway in, where Seven Psychopaths suddenly becomes quite meta, as the screenplay Farrell is trying to write writes itself. As the three friends are sat in the desert, on the run from Charlie (Harrelson), the turn of events they’re experiencing become included in the screenplay, and a few character reveals wrap it all up. Rockwell then comes storming in with the best scene of the film, second only to Walken’s monologue, which almost gave me a coronary it was so funny. Having the film turned in on itself works really well and will please film nutters who like films about films. That sentence pretty much sums up the second half of Seven Psychopaths.
The writing and the cast work seamlessly together to create a film that is not only hilarious, but substantial enough to tug at a few heartstrings along the way. Coming up with a film centered around a Shih Tzu that Christopher Walken has a hand in dog-napping is never not going to be funny. Tom Waits constantly stroking a rabbit is never not going to be funny. Sam Rockwell making Bonnie the Shih Tzu dance, Woody Harrelson throwing a hissy fit over his missing dog, Colin Farrell being Colin Farrell; all of these things will always be funny. Putting them in a film together is nothing short of genius, well done Martin McDonagh.
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Stars: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken
Runtime: 110 min