Friday, 7 December 2012



Perhaps inevitably, there's a lot of top-end cussing in Martin McDonagh's new film: given the liberal use of F and C in the last one, In Bruges, it would probably be unreasonable to expect anything else. Oddly, it has a lower certificate than In Bruges which according to the BBFC's own notes would have received an 18 for language alone, never mind the violence and drug use; have standards changed that much in just four years? I'm not dogmatically opposed to verbal filth in movies - I love Brian De Palma's Scarface - but I can certainly be bored by it if there's too much of it and it's not well used. There is this idea of the poetry of swearing, where it forms part of the rhythm of the speech: 44 Inch Chest staked a claim to this but I'm not convinced by it.

Seven Psychopaths is a self-referential black comedy about homicidal maniacs and to some extent about movies, and it feels like something that should have come out back in the 90s in the wake of Pulp Fiction, when violent and amoral crime comedies like Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead were in cinemas and on the VHS racks. In addition to the bloody violence and flip and cynical humour, this also has a layer of clever-clever Hollywood injokery, as alcoholic screenwriter Colin Farrell struggles with his unfinished (indeed, unstarted) script, also called Seven Psychopaths. His friend, struggling actor Sam Rockwell, works for dognapper Christopher Walken: they've abducted Woody Harrelson's dog and he wants it back. Meantime there's a genuine serial killer stalking Los Angeles....

The idea is that this Seven Psychopaths script is the film we're actually watching: a scene at a party is referred to in dialogue, but never seen, because Farrell never wrote it because his character can't remember it. Lines such as "this would make a great place for a shootout" ultimately refer to the location where the big shootout occurs. Yes, very clever. In addition, it's a cheat of a title since two of the psychopaths are only in it in imagined sequences and two of the other psychopaths turn out to be the same person, so that's down to four psychopaths on the same level of reality as the film. Whatever: there are no dogs in Reservoir Dogs either, and Krakatoa is actually West of Java.

With no-one worth caring about whether they live or die (pretty much everyone's a foulmouthed and unlikeable lowlife), two lead actors I'm not a fan of in Farrell and Rockwell, and nothing roles for the women (Olga Kurylenko has one scene, Abbie Cornish is constantly referred to as "a f***ing bitch"), it's down to the ever-colourful Walken and Harrelson for any entertainment or interest, and endlessly watchable as they are, there's not a lot they can actually do with it. It's not funny, it's not exciting, it's not as clever as it makes out and it's certainly not as good as In Bruges (which I liked but wasn't crazy about).


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