Nov. 8, 2012
'Seven Psychopaths' brings out crazy in us all
Close-ups, cinematic storytelling enhance character normalcy
By Miranda Rosso
With a signature soundtrack and Tarantino-esque cinematic storytelling, the dark but delightful film "Seven Psychopaths" proves that psychopaths are people too.
This macabre action/comedy/adventure flick about the writing of a macabre action/comedy/adventure flick revolves around Marty Faranan (an uncharacteristically spineless Colin Farrell), an Irish alcoholic screenwriter struggling to complete his latest project. Marty’s longtime buddy Billy Bickle (a quirky Sam Rockwell) and his dog kidnapping business partner Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken) set out to offer inspiration for Marty but, instead, create havoc by stealing the beloved Shih Tzu of the unmerciful mobster named Charlie (Woody Harrelson). As Charlie’s vicious efforts to reclaim his dog keep everyone on edge and on the run, Marty learns that struggling to write a hit is almost as rough as the task of staying alive.
Writer and director Martin McDonagh, best known for his involvement in the underground action hit "In Bruges," once again creates a wonderful world where characters seem normal but are anything but.
In "Seven Psychopaths," one way that McDonagh accomplishes this entertaining balance of twisted yet relatable is by using tunes with a vintage feel, like songs by The Walkmen and classics with ironic titles like Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest” to underscore the action. A psychopathic killer is assigned the innocent anthem “Different Drum,” as sung by Linda Rondstadt, to normalize his murderous ways. The audience is constantly reminded of the normalcy of what they see, regardless of how intense and insane the story and its population may get.
Borrowing from demented director Quentin Tarantino’s production playbook, McDonagh also chooses to always keep the camera up-close and painstakingly intimate during conversational turn-taking. This allows the audience to feel a part of every exchange, even when the discussion turns as cold-blooded as the one with a haywire psychopath named Zachariah Rigby (a delightful Tom Waits). No matter if the conversation is comical or suspenseful, the audience always feels invited. Close-ups also apply to the countless gunshot wounds received by characters in this film with the same emotional effect. No matter how gruesome the bullet hole, it all seems so casual and quaint.
McDonagh’s clever writing, creative cinematic storytelling and unique attention to detail are what make the outlandish psychopaths that occupy this film seem so normal. So savvy is this film that the audience might leave wondering if there isn’t just a little bit of psychopath in all of us.