Writer/director Martin McDonagh first came to the attention of American audiences with his 2005 short film Six Shooter. Fresh off the short’s success, he wrote and directed his first feature film shortly thereafter, turning 2008’s fantastic drama In Bruges. The film was a critical hit, and it showcased McDonagh’s knack for original storytelling that blended humor and incredibly dark situations in a way that few had done before. The filmmaker’s long-awaited follow-up film finally made its way to screens last year with the sufficiently nutty and wildly self-referential comedy Seven Psychopaths. Though the pic never ceases to be entertaining, it has a hard time coalescing as a singular story, instead veering off into wild tangents and meta subplots. Hit the jump for our review of Seven Psychopaths on Blu-ray.
In Seven Psychopaths, Colin Farrell stars as Marty Faranan, a struggling screenwriter who is working on a screenplay appropriately titled “Seven Psychopaths.” When not writing or searching for inspiration, Marty spends his days with his best friend Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), an unemployed actor who kidnaps dogs and collects the reward money when he returns them unharmed. Billy’s partner is a man named Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken), a devoutly religious fellow who uses all of his money to put towards his wife’s cancer treatments.
The film’s central plot kicks into gear when Billy and Hans kidnap the beloved Shih Tzu of a decidedly violent and unhinged gangster by the name of Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson). The rest of the film seemingly centers on Marty, Billy, and Hans dealing with this sticky situation, but it almost seems like the plot device of the kidnapped dog is kept on the backburner throughout the film. We’re treated to a number of side stories involving real life psychopaths that Marty uses as inspiration for his screenplay, and there’s a running story of a serial murderer who goes by the name of “The Jack of Diamonds.”
The script is absolutely full of self-referential dialogue and meta situations, and it’s not hard to see that at its heart, the story is really about a writer suffering from writer’s block. Martin appears to be a solid stand-in for writer/director Martin McDonagh, and while the references and kooky characters are entertaining (Tom Waits plays a particularly interesting psychopath), it’s tough to develop a strong connection with any of them given how schizophrenic the storytelling seems to be. Moreover, the balance between humor and very dark situations doesn’t come together as smoothly as it did in In Bruges, making for some strange shifts in tone.
Seven Psychopaths is in no way a bad film, but as someone who adores In Bruges and was really looking forward to McDonagh’s follow-up, I found myself a tad underwhelmed by the end result.
One respect in which Seven Psychopaths is a step up from In Bruges is the cinematography. McDonagh shoots the film with a gorgeously light palate that evokes the sense of aimless wandering felt by so many aspiring actors/writers/directors in Los Angeles, and the transfer here is beautiful. The film is presented in 1080p HD, 2.40:1. The audio is top-notch as well, as my frightened dog can attest to the crisp nature of the film’s many gunshots from the 5.1 DTS-HD sound.
The extras on the Blu-ray are disappointingly brief. The disc includes two very short featurettes on the characters played by Colin Farrell and Woody Harrelson that are a heavy on the fluff side. Also included is a two-minute featurette on the film’s locations, which provides a nice look at the photogenic desert locales. The final featurette is titled “Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths” and provides a more overall view of the making of the film, though at two and a half minutes it’s too brief to get into anything of substance. The highlight of the bonus features section, though, is Seven Psychocats. It’s pretty self-explanatory, as it’s simply a recreation of the trailer done exclusively with cats. Funny stuff.
I would most definitely recommend giving Seven Psychopaths a watch. I realize there are plenty that love the film, so if you find yourself falling for it and can see replay value in the pic, then the Blu-ray is fine purchase. The lack of extras make this less of a necessity, though, so if you’re not very passionate about the film, it’s probably best to keep this one as a rental.