Seven Psychopaths: Colin Farrell as a Troubled Hollywood Writer

Writer/director Martin McDonagh contrives to have his hero, an Irish screenwriter with the "get it" name Marty (Colin Farrell), dressed down for his inability to write women who aren't just there to be murdered. That complaint is certainly true of Seven Psychopaths, and McDonagh's joking about it is an old rogue's trick: Admitting to rakish behavior in advance purchases leniency for future offenses. So, yes, this is boys' stuff, but of the best possible sort: A screenwriter and his somewhat-touched actor bud (Sam Rockwell, in stoned–Dana Carvey mode) find seven stories from seven psychopaths to fill out a screenplay Marty has titled—just guess—but hasn't written. A dognapping Christopher Walken gets in bad with raging gangster Woody Harrelson and eventually does the one last great thing you can't believe no other movie has ever thought to have Christopher Walken do: drop peyote at Joshua Tree. (Tip for your office's Walken impersonator: He calls the drugs "howl-loose-sen-ah-gens.") Tom Waits shows up. There are flashbacks to absurd crime sprees, fabulist tales of murderers who might make the in-film screenplay, a serial killer on the loose, more sawn-open corpses than in a good Fangoria, and the characters' attempt to avoid the ending that a movie like Seven Psychopaths must have. The film opens up as its leads flee to the desert, becoming thoughtful, expansive, and funnier than ever, something like Pirandello or "Duck Amuck" but without ever smashing into addressing-the-author meta-fiction. Remember the shitty crime comedies every Hollywood brat tried to make after Pulp Fiction? It took an Irish playwright to get it right.

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