REMEMBER the mid-1990s, when the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino were all the rage, when cinema was filled with blabby hitmen, narrative left-turns and self-referentiality? The Irish playwright turned moviemaker Martin McDonagh clearly does, since his second feature, the black comedy Seven Psychopaths, is an affectionate tribute to that era.
|Actors||Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Michael Pitt, Abbie Cornish, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits|
|OFLC rating||MA 15+|
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu.
Colin Farrell, who was very funny in McDonagh's debut In Bruges, is the straight man this time round. He plays Marty, a drunken Irish writer soaking up the Californian sun while he tinkers with a screenplay called (wait for it) Seven Psychopaths.
Episodes from this hypothetical film-within-film are mixed in with the primary plot involving Marty's friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), who makes a dubious living kidnapping dogs. It would spoil things to say what happens from this point on, or even to list all the familiar actors who pop up in major and minor roles.
Captions flash on the screen as the seven psychopaths are ticked off one by one: some exist only in Marty's imagination, while some are closer to home. Part of the pleasure here lies in not knowing who or what might be round the corner - though the impish Rockwell gets most of the best lines.
A gloomy sceptic at heart, McDonagh nonetheless sees Seven Psychopaths as an opportunity for horsing around.