“You can’t let the animals die in a movie. Just the women”
‘In Bruges’ creator Martin McDonagh returns to the big screen with ‘Seven Psychopaths’, bringing us into the warped world of Hollywood. Deliberately and very cleverly self aware, ‘Seven Psychopaths’ is about a struggling screen writer who must write a movie from scratch with a title but no plot.
–May Contain Spoilers–
Their quest to write the film lands them in many sticky situations with real life psychopaths and lots of blood is shed, but how far will they go to write the perfect screenplay?
‘Seven Psychopaths‘ satirises the film industry, namely Hollywood, with plenty of self reference. The entire premise is based around the idea of blending reality with representation, and living our lives as if it were a movie. The film boasts a stellar cast and the performances are very strong, cold and callous as Christopher Walken’s character appears to be, he and indeed the film itself has a few touching moments of warmth in amongst the violence and humour.
‘Seven Psychopaths’ comes across as a satire of McDonagh’s own experience of writing in Hollywood, where crazy people have all the power and the talent (i.e. the writers) have to play along and do as they’re told. Marty is dragged into a whirlwind mess of violence by his friend and sort-of co-writer Billy who sets up situations along the way to try and ‘help’ Marty write the best screenplay ever. Billy, it transpires, is a psychopath himself and has been killing people since the start of the film in order to create a trail for Marty to follow and write about.
The opening scene is the best part of the film, and that doesn’t mean to say the rest is all downhill, rather the film opens with a bang…literally. We’re watching a wide shot of two hit-men on a road, discussing their next victim. The dialogue is unprofessional, they’re essentially bumbling fools, which obviously aids the humour. While there is a sense of the pantomime ‘it’s behind you’ joke, the audience is treated to an omniscient view of a masked man holding a gun casually strolling up behind them. This plays out quite slowly, almost the whole time they’re talking we’re aware of the man in the background, and the angle of the shot means he starts from quite far away. You can probably guess what happens when he reaches them! There’s something darkly funny about the whole scene, it comes close to genius…it’s a long take but it’s never boring or tedious. It’s an interesting way to open the film as well, establishing two characters who aren’t at all relevant to the rest of the film, and giving us a brief glimpse of what’s to come.
I’m a sucker for self awareness in films like this, I loved the satire of Hollywood as an industry as well as the creator, or destroyer of dreams and careers. When Christopher Walken’s character Hans, Billy’s dog-thieving co-worker, says ‘I like it, it has layers’, we’re reminded of our tendency to talk about life as if it’s a film.
‘In Bruges’ is a tough act to follow, I’d heard a lot of people say that ‘Seven Psychopaths’ was better and I can safely say I agree! It’s dark but funny and very clever, and the acting is great!