Is Seven Psychopaths the Greatest Irish Film of the Century?

SevenPsychopaths2012MovieTitleBannerMartin McDonagh has done a brave thing here. He’s made a film that looks for all the world like a really lazy, sub-Tarantino Hollywood B movie, peopled by risibly sub-one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs in a mesmerically unfunny so say pastiche.

But what he’s actually produced is a brilliantly candid portrait of a writer paralyzed by fear, who spends his days in an alcoholic haze petrified that he has nothing to say.

Instead of following the writer in a conventional way though, what he’s done is to show us the kind of film that a writer like that would produce if he really was as untalented as he secretly fears. And he were to insist on writing a screenplay anyway, despite being permanently inebriated.

Hence those tediously clichéd characters wandering around LA, spouting all that pseudo-Tarantino, wannabe Mamet dialogue that the writer clearly thinks will suddenly gain weight simply by being constantly repeated.

Occasionally, the writer will comment on his failings as a writer, as if by talking about them he might be able to fix them. Which, needless to say, is gratingly Californian, and is exactly the kind of thing a writer like that would think.

seven-psychopaths-walkenSomehow, despite being asked to wade through all this swill, Christopher Walken manages the remarkable feat of conjuring up a performance of genuine charm. And Colin Farrell similarly succeeds in occasionally making you actually feel for the writer. But then he’s forced to emit more of that dreary dialogue. Which he then has to repeat. Again.

Of course there’ll be the less cineastically sophisticated who’ll no doubt claim that McDonagh has gone from writing plays that read like really long episodes of Father Ted but without any of the jokes, to a sub-Tarantino (did you get the reference yet?) Hollywood pastiche without any of its jokes. And anyone who’s seen all six hours of Kill Bill will know what that feels like.

No way – I’m looking for a witty, po-mo meta-rhyme, there it is – José. Seven Psychopaths is so much more than that.

Despite what it looks like, this is in fact a brilliant distillation of the kind of unspeakable script a writer might produce, if he spent his every waking hour doused in a sterile sea of cheap alcohol that rendered his imagination completely impotent. And as such, it’s a devastating indictment of the demon drink. Oh the horror. The horror.

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