I have always loved Colin Farrell as an actor but often I think he picks the wrong scripts. For every Minority Report or Phone Booth, there’s an Alexander or Miami Vice. However by far my favourite film that Farrell has starred in is In Bruges, directed and written by Martin McDonagh and released in 2008. Seven Psychopaths marks the second time that McDonagh (writing and directing again) and Farrell have collaborated and I’m glad to say it’s a winner.
Farrell plays Marty Faranan, a struggling Irish screenwriter living in LA who is working on a script called Seven Psychopaths but having huge problems coming up with characters and a plot, in other words a basic story. Marty has a drink problem but as the film progresses it becomes apparent that he is a garden variety fuck-up in comparison to the rest of nutbags in the movie.
Marty’s best friend, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), is an out of work actor who pays the bills by stealing dogs and then collecting the reward when he returns them to their owner. Bickle’s dognapping partner and employer is Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken), a man devoted to his wife who is in hospital being treated for cancer. Marty gets implicated in the stealing of a Shih Tzu belonging to a psychopathic gangster (Woody Harrelson) and so goes on the run with Billy and Hans.
Colin Farrell shines in this movie. Although he usually plays offbeat characters in his films, in this he is the straight man to the more outlandish characters and he shows another side to his considerable talent. Rockwell is scene-stealingly brilliant and I hope he will be appropriately rewarded next awards season. Christopher Walken, who has certainly earned icon status at this stage, is even more deadpan in this role than usual and consequently a delight. And Woody Harrellson is perfectly cast and just seems to get better with age, both physically and artistically.
McDonagh expertly weaves the various plot strands together and the result is a zany, violent and satirical film which is certainly reminiscent of Tarantino but in no way derivative. Seven Psychopaths is meta-fictional and cleverly self-mocking with loony quickfire dialogue and great performances. I adored it wholeheartedly and I urge you to go and see it while it’s in cinemas.