I must start off by saying that I absolutely adored In Bruges. Of course, it was Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh’s first feature length film. I included the feature length part because before that Mr. McDonagh made his first film as a short, Six Shooter that was so praised it won the Oscar in 2006 for Best Live Action Short.
His style has been greatly compared to Quentin Tarantino, and for the most part with just cause. To date, Seven Psychopaths, which opened in theaters October 12, comes the closest to being akin to Pulp Fiction. While McDonagh feels the Tarantino film is a masterpiece, he loathes the comparison of his work to a contemporary.
The fairer question would actually be, “How have you been influenced by David Mamet and in particular his play/film, Glengarry Glen Ross?” Not only do both men use extremely caustic dialogue in their work; they also rose to prominence on the stage, achieved accolades there, and then made the transition to cinema.
Now, onto this film and what it has to say for itself. Some might say that it is a film within a film, but that would be a falsehood. It is a film that shows a writer within his screenwriting process – most of the time anyway. What happens during the other parts, you ask? Well, that’s the clever and sometimes downright hilarious twist of this story.
Colin Farrell plays an Irish writer named Marty, now living in Los Angeles who only has a great title for a story but no characters or plot line yet. The name of his fictional film? Why of course it is Seven Psychopaths. Enters his best friend Billy, played by the scene-stealing Sam Rockwell, who literally does everything possible to give Marty the material he needs for his script. In a going-against typecasting, it is Farrell’s character throughout who is the calm amidst the storm.
And what a storm McDonagh has brewed up for us: in plot, character and dialogue – yes, a triple threat. In a lesser production this cast would have been the only strength, but they do have intriguing characters, like Christopher Walken, who is so good he comes close to doing a self-parody. Tom Waits, in a supporting role, has the most emotionally charged storyline and gives a performance so filled with truth you’d never know he hadn’t been an actor his whole life.
Through Marty, McDonagh tries to make a statement about our voyeuristic love of violence. This film displays this love in all its glory with bloody, violent deaths and one quick-witted line after another. All the main characters take their turn either saying something racist, sexist or homophobic. With the exception of Woody Harrelson, who plays a crime boss whose Shih Tzu gets dog-napped, his character has no issues with being politically incorrect on all fronts. As Walken’s Hans points out to Marty, “You’re the one that thought psychopaths were so interesting. They get tiresome after a while, don’t you think?”
That’s when McDonagh gives the audience a little something to contemplate, at least that is his intention.
About the Author: Andrea Elizabeth Mitchell is a professional comedy writer and performer who has been in the business close to thirty years now. She has worked in several types of media including TV, Radio and Print. To branch out even further this year Ms Mitchell's work will be seen on both the internet and the big screen. Yes, a feature film she co-wrote is going into production, and who knows where this internet thing might take her!