Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
Seven Psychopaths is one of the most twisted, unique and enjoyable films you will see all year…if you’re a fan of this kind of film. If you enjoy the intertwining, twisty tales of Tarantino and the black comedy of the Coen Brothers, then chances are you’ll love Seven Psychopaths. This is a film that is fully aware of what it is and while it may ultimately be style over substance, slightly hypocritical and arguably sexist, it is a film that is destined for cult status amongst film lovers.
Dealing with its flaws first, Seven Psychopaths is a film, which makes note of and criticizes certain clichés and conventions, yet additionally revels in and tolerates them. It brings up the question of whether a film is allowed to get away with doing something because it knows it is doing it and is therefore part of the joke. The female characters in this film are perhaps your stereotypical bad female Hollywood characters, the annoying girlfriend and the ‘attractive’ girlfriend. Christopher Walken’s character says to Marty how his female characters are terrible, directly referencing the archetypes that the female characters within the movie inhabit. This will divide some with it certainly leaving enough ground for people to label it hypocritical, lazy and sexist. However for me personally this flaw never became a detrimental one, as the film was too enjoyable to be brought down by the presence of some unoriginal elements in what is ultimately a very originally unoriginal film. Also I am in the camp that, in this case at least, the awareness of its shortcomings is part of the joke and seeks to augment as well as ease any problems that would otherwise be present. The people who made this film know there should be better female characters; maybe next time they will have them. Also we may not have got the line, “The hooker had studied Vietnamese at Yale” had this particular film had the female characters that Christopher Walken’s character called out for.
The film also has some threads that aren’t fully exploited for their maximum potential and there is a huge missed opportunity in regards to the surprising unity of the storylines, something that sticks out more due to the clever way in which the film does it for the rest of its stories (Skating around spoilers here). It could also be argued that all the performances are rather one-note, some elements predictable and the film lacking in deep or memorable characters that would populate the work of Tarantino, whose influence and inspiration is all over this film. Some of his memorable characters are female as well…
However while all these flaws are noticeable in the cold light of day, none of them took away from or damaged my viewing experience, which was probably one of the most enjoyable of 2012. While one particular reveal and twist is predictable for anybody versed in whodunit films, one of them took me by surprise, being one of the few twists in film this year to actually do that. This is a much more confident and ambitious film than In Bruges, with it containing numerous, individual montages, scenes and set-pieces that could be viewed and enjoyed as their own, separate, short films. While In Bruges may be a better screenplay, with dialogue that will ultimately be more quotable and memorable (Although time will tell on that front) Seven Psychopaths is probably the better film visually and directorially. Some of the action scenes and shoot-outs in this film, may in fact be among my favourite action scenes of the year (I am thinking particularly of the cemetery shoot-out)
This film has a much larger cast than In Bruges and due to that unfair advantage, is a much better acted film. Colin Farrell has a much more thankless role in this film than he did in, In Bruges. While in that film (Want to write in, In Bruges, as few times as I can) Farrell had a very meaty, dramatic and much more deep role, in this he is very much the comedic straight man keeping the balance amongst his many crazy and wacky supporting players. Sam Rockwell is rightfully winning many of the acting plaudits for this film, with him having the best role in regards to humour. Rockwell has always been a favourite of mine since his stunning performance in Moon and therefore I was happy to see him be the scene-stealer in this effort. Despite the wackiness of his character, Rockwell does a good job in regards to restraining the role, as the character could have easily become an annoying rather than amusing presence under less assured hands. Another standout for many is Christopher Walken, who gives a typical Walken performance and has the benefit of perhaps being the most ‘normal’ yet also quirky of the ‘psychopaths’. Woody Harrelson is also having plenty of fun here, however the best of his character doesn’t extend beyond his face when he sees his dog in danger.
Overall due to its fun performances, quotable, inventive and self-referential screenplay, dark sense of humour and visual improvement over its spiritual predecessor, Seven Psychopaths is one of 2012’s finest films. It may be a mash-up of stuff you have seen before, it may be hypocritical in reveling in the clichés and behavior it mocks and its female characters are severely lacking depth, then again so are the male characters, yet crucially they are funnier and given more to do. However Seven Psychopaths is an incredibly enjoyable cinematic experience and it warrants one of the finest pieces of praise you can give a movie, I can’t wait to watch it again.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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