A few years ago, a reader here recommended the film In Bruges to me, a quirky little comedy about two hit men (one played by anti-Boyfriend Colin Farrell) hiding out in a small town in Belgium while the hoopla over their accidental shooting of [redacted for spoilers] dies down.
Written and directed by Martin McDonaugh, In Bruges is a strange, strangely brilliant movie, with sharp, witty dialogue and a surprising amount of authentic emotion. It made my #2 spot in my Top Ten Favorite (Good) Movies of 2008 list, and I’ve watched it several times since and loved it all the more every time.
Seven Psychopaths, McDonaugh’s second feature-length picture, follows in similarly-shaped footsteps. It’s also about a group of guy friends going through something truly weird together, and it’s got a similar kind of empathetic undercurrent to it (not as rich as in Bruges, but there nonetheless), even while it’s also loaded to the hilt with comic-style, exaggerated violence (warning! head explodes!).
The story is about Marty Faranan (Farrell again — and while I hate to say this, I’m really starting to like that guy), a wanna-be scriptwriter living in Los Angeles who has been working hard on his first screenplay for months, yet still only has a concept and a title. Seven Psychopaths, he’s going to call it, and it’s going to be about. . . seven psychopaths.
Marty’s best friend, Billy (the ever-delightful Sam Rockwell), decides to help Marty out by putting an ad in the paper asking for psychopaths who have interesting stories to give him a call. THANKS, BILLY!
Meanwhile, Billy and HIS friend Hans (Christopher Walken and his usual brand of semi-contained strangeness) have been working on a money-making scheme in which they kidnap dogs and then “pretend” to find them, collecting reward money. All is going well until they kidnap the wrong dog — the dog of a notorious gangster, played by Woody Harrelson (cue lots of over-pronunciation of the “t” in “Shih Tzu”).
And just when you think this movie cannot get any more ridiculous or any more ridiculously well-cast, who should walk in the front door but Tom Waits? Carrying a bunny rabbit, no less! Honestly, if someone had told me this movie was going to involve Tom Waits and a bunny rabbit, I would’ve been first in line on ticket day. That’s all it would’ve taken. THAT IS ALL.
Seven Psychopaths is maybe a little too clever at times — it really likes to pile on the movie archetypes and the meta, with meta on top of meta on top of a picture within a picture. But the characters are so fun, their relationships so zingy, and their banter so marvelous, the overdoing-of-things at times just never seemed to get in the way for me. This movie is flawed, without a doubt, but it’s also an absolute blast. Highly recommended, and I can’t wait to see what McDonaugh does next!