LIFF26 - Seven Psychopaths - Cinema Review

'Martin McDonagh: now with added Quentin Tarantino.'

In Bruges re-invented the turning circular wheel of the hitman Thriller to find itself with a triangle; sure it was different and it still turned but there was something missing, something which made the new creation clunky and a bit unsatisfying.

Seven Psychopaths does a similar thing to the crime caper but sees the director of both, Martin McDonagh on much better form, remembering that his audience, and his plot, need satisfaction in amongst the cliché avoidance and rule-bending structure.

He gets off to a good start with three likeable leads. Rather than being reliant on Brendan Gleeson’s Ken in In Bruges to drag the audience along and give us some humanity in the madness, McDonagh here has Colin Farrell’s likeable, perma-drunk screenwriter Marty, Sam Rockwell’s typically zany dog kidnapper Billy and Christopher Walken’s hallucinogenic cactus-munching pacifist Hans. All of them are able to provide comic relief and likeable charm, giving Seven Psychopaths the ‘up’ from the start in both interest stakes and scripting flexibility; all get great lines and all deliver them well.

For a director so concerned with breaking convention and failing to follow the obvious path, it is a little disconcerting to find that Seven Psychopaths is yet another film in which the most obvious candidate to play the hero is a screenwriter. At some point those who spend their lives writing Hollywood scripts must wake up and realise that there are better candidates for heroes than those who spend their lives writing Hollywood scripts. Through an interwoven tale of a film-within-a-film (or at least a script-within-a-script), Seven Psychopaths does just about get away with making Farrell the main lead, but it’s a close run thing for those getting tired of this particular trope.

The whole thing though gets by on another element missing from In Bruges; charm. Farrell has oodles of it and isn’t afraid to use it, Rockwell has a canine sidekick who fills in whenever he’s lacking and Walken, well, Walken on this form could charm a pair of handcuffs off his wrists with wordplay alone. It’s a potent, entertaining and oft-hilarious mix, which achieves that rare feat and actually lives up to the promise of its early trailer. Martin McDonagh: now with added Quentin Tarantino.

The 26th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 1st November to 18th November at venues around the city. Programming includes several UK premières, the popular Night Of and Day Of The Dead and a selection of competition films in the Official Selection.

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