I read somewhere that the California drought was caused by depressed screenwriters taking long showers. No surprise there, since a studio deadline, writers block, psychological issues and alcoholism generally coexist in a screenwriter’s life. Movie-making, then, is an absurd mix of artistry and business. Seven Psychopaths is a testimonial to that absurd world of movie creation, proving with its blood-soaked goofiness that sometimes you can have fun with too much of the same thing.
Setting out with the sole purpose of kicking stock genres in the shins, writer/director Martin McDonagh begins the film with a double murder by a psychopath who is named the Jack-of-Diamonds. A story about Marty (Colin Farrell) who’s out of ideas for his characters in a screenplay called ‘Seven Psychopaths’ follows, but not before showing us some amusing yet bizarre tales about different psychopaths and murders. Marty unwittingly seeks help of his friend Billy (a fantastic Sam Rockwell) for finishing up the screenplay. Meanwhile we have another maniac called Charlie (Woody Harrelson) who needs his abducted dog back. The dog has been abducted by Billy and his older associate Hans (Christopher Walken). But things turn ugly as Charlie kills Hans’ cancer-stricken wife and goes on a profane killing spree (so does everyone in this goddamned movie). It sounds twisted but the swirling plot is just a base for firing off a gleefully violent chain of events that make ludicrous commentary on what it is to make a movie.
Though it thrives purposefully on the episodes of a standardized action film, every minute of Seven Psychopaths is alive with invention. Part of the reason why it works is because McDonagh is aware of the implausibility of the premise, so he injects a heavy dose of dark humor into the film’s proceedings. This is guilty entertainment with some conceptual weight in the right places.
There is a pop-culture cannon hurling one gag after another in rapid-fire which is never dull even when it makes a few mistakes. The occasional smarts beneath the black sludge of savagery and humor work very well with its preposterous flow. The film feeds off the infectious energy of the cast and crew who chuckle and play their wacky roles with appropriate lunacy. Seven Psychopaths is, quite literally, crazy good.
Not a bad way to spend a lazy weekend with a friend.