Movie: Seven Psychopaths
My Rating: 5 stars
This movie is great. But, it’s hard to explain. There are so many different narrative layers weaving together at once. It’s a story about a novelist. So we get to see his story. But then, we also get to dive into some of the stories that he writes. But, then some of the fiction starts blending in with reality. And, sometimes it’s unclear which characters are real, and which are fictional. It’s all one big, indecipherable mess, until the conclusion of the film when all the loose ends are tied up, and the different layers are explained to us in a somewhat satisfying matter. But, it’s a confusing, but interesting journey up until that point.
It’s very ambitious writing. I’ve seen that kind of thing go bad before. But, this movie manages to pull it off very impressively. Perhaps it has something to do with the movie’s A-list cast. Colin Ferrell is our novelist. And Sam Rockwell is the best friend that’s egging him on and enabling his raging alcoholism. Cristopher Walken is Rockwell’s partner in their “entrepreneurial” endeavors, and Woody Harrelson is the criminal boss that the pair accidentally make enemies with. Abbie Cornish is Farrell’s pissed off girlfriend, and Gabourey Sidibe is the poor dog-walker caught in the middle of the whole mess. Even Tom Waites pops up in a few scenes as one of our titular psychopaths. It’s crazy, and edgy, and completely unpredictable, and all that makes this movie pretty great. But, I think this amazing cast may have won this project enough resources to polish off any rough edges it may have had.
This is a very violent movie. The title is Seven Psychopaths. So, you’ve got to imagine that some of those psychopaths are up to no good. And, this movie has its fair share of unrepentant violence, grisly gore, explosions, and murders. And while all of those scenes are relatively jarring, they’re presented in the context of this very meta, darkly comedic, and self-aware script. So, it doesn’t read the same way as if this were an action flick, or a crime drama. A lot of it is presented as if it were theoretical, fictional crime, so those scenes don’t have quite the same emotional impact as they would if they were presented at face value. But, that being said, there’s plenty of bloody violence in the scenes taking place in the “present” as well.
It’s really hard for me to describe the tone of this movie to you. It’s nominally about crime and crime-drama writing, but it has so much more going on in it than that. There’s black humor, several different layers of meta comedy and social commentary, as well as an expertly crafted work of sensationalist crime fiction. Sam Rockwell steals the movie as the most charming, irresponsible, best friend ever. But, he presents his opinions with such authority that you find yourself wanting to go along with whatever he says. The movie is surprising and unexpected, and much better than you probably think it’ll be. So, I definitely recommend this one. Just be prepared for a little throat slitting.