Saturday, October 20, 2012
3 Thoughts on Seven Psychopaths
1. It's a brilliant mess - I don't usually pay much attention to reviews. I tend to casually skim through a few critics here and there, after I've seen a film. But, since this is my favorite film of the year so far (yup, big words), I am really interested in what others have to say. For the most part, reviews are good and it seems that the only real criticism is about the third act. While I agree that the tone of the film changes drastically, I hardly find that a fault. First, the characters actually warn you about this tonal shift, so I was prepared for it. Second, some of the scenes in the third act were the most hilarious scenes in the whole movie. Third, ultimately, this is a film that is intended to be a self-reflexive, deconstruction of the mental state of a writer during the writing process. So, if you critique the film as manic, unbalanced and too satisfied with its own cleverness, I would call that a huge success. I simply can't complain if a film succeeded in everything it seems to want to achieve. Martin McDonagh displays his insecurities with such refreshing wit, that calling out a "flaw" in the film becomes pointless. He created a film that is completely unexpected, layered, memorable and intelligent. There are a lot of comparisons being made to Charlie Kaufman (who did something similar with Adaptation, but it was much less amusing) and Quentin Tarantino, both are fair assessments. If you are using these comparisons as the sole reason to criticize the film, I think that is just plain lazy. Also, there are an alarming amount of reviews, in which the reviewer clearly wasn't paying attention. I read one where the reviewer got two plot points completely wrong (and still gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Fucking bizarre.). If you think the main plot is the theft of a shih tzu, then you've completely misunderstood the film.
2. Sam Rockwell steals the movie - I really wasn't expecting that to happen. I loved Colin Farrell in In Bruges. It is one of my favorite performances of his. I remember being ecstatic that he won the Golden Globe for it and incredibly disappointed that it didn't translate to an Oscar nomination. Farrell did a great job here, but he was playing an Irish alcoholic - not exactly a tough role for him. Christopher Walken is, once again, a perfect parody of himself and Woody Harrelson portrays the most obvious "psychopath" to a satisfactory degree. They were all completely over-shadowed by Sam Rockwell, the most unpredictable "psychopath". Rockwell adds a perfect amount of heart, enthusiasm, charm and impeccable comedic timing to his role. Phenomenal performance.
3. The problem with women - *very slight spoilers* As part of the theme of self-awareness, McDonagh addresses the issues that arise when writing female characters for violent, dark comedy/crime thrillers. Often they are easily identified as "the naked prostitute" or "the manipulative but hot girlfriend" and both of these characters appear in this film. Is it frustrating? As a feminist, I would say "HELL, YES". Does it effect my overall enjoyment of a film? Usually not. I obviously don't speak for all women. There were 4 walk-outs during my viewing of this film - all females (although, I assume that these women had no idea what type of movie they were about to watch, instead they saw Colin Farrell and said "oooh, let's see that". I also assume that they walked out due to the graphic violence and not due to the excessive use of the word "cunt". I could be wrong, but I doubt it). What McDonagh does towards the end of the film to reveal his own frustration with female characters is rather brilliant. He recreates "the naked prostitute" into a character that is a feminist's dream; one that is intelligent, cultured and fully-clothed. The genius behind this, is how incredibly ridiculous and out of place that character becomes. The scene itself is hilarious (heightened by narration from Walken) and probably my favorite of the film. Well played, McDonagh. I feel like we had an argument over the use of strong female characters....and he won.