Aneesh Chaganty

Seven Psychopaths | MAD Review

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2012 at 11:18 PM

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Seven Psychopaths

(2012, UK, d. Martin McDonagh)

Something feels off with Seven Psychopaths and I’m still trying to figure out what.

I can’t blame the man behind the camera. Martin McDonagh has made some of the best films I’ve seen to date (the short film Shooter and his current masterpiece In Bruges).

I can’t blame the performances. Each actor commits wholeheartedly to their eccentric personalities. For example, Woody Harrelson is Psychopath No. 3, a man who tries to juggle his unconditional love for his dog with his burning hatred for all of humanity. Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, and a variety of supporting characters all provide their unique interpretations of the deranged personas written for them on the page. Even Colin Farrell (who’s grown into a very strong actor over the years), the film’s protagonist, allows himself to sit in the shadows and let the outrageous personalities take center stage. A brave move for an actor of his caliber, but very much like the writer he portrays. 

Farrell plays Marty, an Irish writer who comes up with an incredible idea for a screenplay called “Seven Psychopaths”. Notice the similarity between his character’s name and the writer/director of the film. Yes, this is one of those conceptually meta pieces. And I tend to love those. 

I can’t blame the screenplay, which on it’s own is a fiendishly entertaining and extremely self-aware piece that lambasts the creative process as much as it does embrace it. Filled to the brim with unexpected plot twists, conversations in the vein of a Tarantino flick, and mind-blowing amounts of gore (literally), there’s a lot to love about the script.

Where Seven Psychopaths goes wrong is when these ingredients try and work together. I’ll give you a hint: They don’t. 

Though it starts off with promise, Seven Psychopaths quickly erupts into a tale that feels so meaningless and pointlessly self-referential, I couldn’t take it. Now I understand I’m in the minority on this one: A lot of people like the film. There’s nothing wrong with that, because at the end of the day, I have to respect that this is a very carefully crafted and intelligent piece.

But somewhere 45 minutes into the movie, I just started asking myself “What’s the point?”. I was laughing at the jokes, surprised by the many twists, and shocked by the bursts of sadistic violence – in a good way. But it got to a point where it lost its bearings. A point when it was enveloped in the fact that it was trying to be something else and forgot what it actually was. In its unpredictable nature, the film became predictable. I knew what it was going to say or knew how it would try and say it. By the time it did make the points it was trying to make, it was too late. My biggest problem with the film is than never felt genuine. It never felt honest. It just felt like a cool idea. Wouldn’t it be cool if we made this movie? 

I wanted this film to be good. Even watching it, I was thinking that somewhere in the footage captured for the film lies an extraordinary cut. From an ingredient standpoint, everything was in its favor. But save a few sequences that are nothing short of genius (the ending credit sequence, a few montages), it just never worked out that way.

And having seen what McDonagh is capable of with In Bruges, I was really looking forward to what he would do next. Unfortunately, it wasn’t crazy about it.

See what I did there?

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