Directed by Martin McDonagh
Playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh tells stories that are blood-soaked and black-humored. But rarely do they feel as personal as his latest movie, which finds him at once being himself and yearning to break new ground—to stop staging bloodbaths and write something with real feeling. Colin Farrell, who played the lead in McDonagh's other feature In Bruges, stars as a writer named Marty who has a great title for a screenplay—Seven Psychopaths—but no other ideas. Through his best friend, a dognapper played by Sam Rockwell, he's introduced to a litany of madmen to help inspire him: Christopher Walken (who starred with Rockwell in McDonagh's Broadway play A Behanding in Spokane) as the head of the dognapping syndicate, Woody Harrelson as a gangster whose dog they abduct, Tom Waits as a rabbit-stroking killer of serial killers, and more.
The film is full of what you'd expect from a McDonagh movie: violent set pieces, including a head getting sawed off, punctuated by witty philosophical digressions; a lot of the humor arises from his acknowledgment of human frailty and weakness where genre convention calls for cool. But the movie also serves as personal examination, both of the artist and his art. Farrell's Marty confronts a drinking problem and the fact that he's a bad friend, what you imagine might be McDonagh's own personal problems. He admits that he's bad at writing for women. He admits that his work is violent. Ultimately, he both indulges his desire to change and embraces the person, and the writer, that he is. Not all the violence here is funny, though, like the shot of a man cradling his murdered wife. In fact, the movie ends with a story about righteous violence, one in which death might make the world a better place. It feels like a defense: that in a world that's already fucking psychopathic, sometimes some kinds of violence, whether in real life or in art, are necessary.
Opens October 12