Movie Review: Seven Psychopaths

IMDB, Seven Psychopaths“Seven Psychopaths” on IMDB

Drama, 110 Minutes, 2012

This movie was marketed horribly.  It was marketed as a quick-cut, quick-wit, wacky ensemble comedy like “Snatch” [IMDB] or “Ocean’s Eleven” [IMDB].  The trailer has swearing, explosions and guns.  It was presented as a fun, simple, frenetic story about some lunatics that steal an even bigger lunatic’s dog.  Smart, yes, but not too smart.

Look at the poster or the official website.  Both show seven people, all numbered (differently), as the “Seven Psychopaths”.  In the actual movie however two of those people (the women, if you couldn’t guess) have, combined, about four minutes screen time.  Neither are, as characters, fundamental to the story.  Colin Farrell [IMDB], our star, is also not a psychopath (in the movie, at least).

I was ready for that movie.  Ready to laugh, not have to think about anything too hard and go to bed.  The movie I saw was a whole different movie.  The movie I saw was deeply layered and laden with complex, interwoven threads and characters.  It did have quirky, often hilarious, elements but it was far from a comedy.  I had to think about it.  I had to think about it a lot.

Marty, our hero, is writing a screenplay called “Seven Psychopaths” but is suffering from writer’s block.  His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell [IMDB], in an Oscar-worthy role) is trying to help by exposing him to, well, psychopaths.  Psychopaths like Hans (Christopher Walken [IMDB]) a pacifist with a past.  The reality of the situation and the scenarios of the screenplay intertwine and overlap sometimes meaningfully and other times randomly in a wonderfully schizophrenic way completely befitting the title.

Returning to the theme of being forced to think there’s an extended sequence, near the end, where the three main characters review the story so far and, masterfully, make legitimate criticisms of it in retrospect.  For example, the movie treats the female roles terribly; but then criticizes itself later for doing so… so did it?  As the three discuss this and many other things my brain – still being forced to work heavily against its will – was forced to consider them as metaphors for the “Id”, “Ego” and “Super-Ego”.  I was really interested by now even if my brain was still pissed for having to unexpectedly recognize Freudian metaphors.

The movie I was promised looked light and fun and good.  The movie I got was deep and layered and great.  I suppose I can forgive them being confused about how exactly to market this but I’m not ready to forgive them for getting it so wrong in the end.  This is something special that they made look like something ordinary – good, but ordinary all the same.  It deserved better.

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