Seven Psychopaths

You know a movie’s going to be a festival hit — or at least feel that a movie’s going to be a hit — when hundreds of fans slog to a midnight premiere, potentially boozed up but still edgy with excitement, laughing and yelling their approval.

The Midnight Madness premiere of In Bruges director Martin McDonagh’s violent comedy Seven Psychopaths, starring a litany of actors who’ve played past cinematic psychopaths, including Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson, brought out film nerds and nerdettes alike. Costars Abbie Cornish, in swooping red, and Olga Kurylenko, in a glam black gown with an Angelina Jolie-ish leg slit, came as well, along with a non-human cast member: a sweet, sedate shih tzu in the movie named Bonny.

Seven Psychopaths is as topsy turvy and bloody as the title implies, and fans devoured every gun shot wound and gory act. They also howled at the massive number of zingy one-liners from Rockwell as overly talkative actor Billy, who’s really crazier than he seems, and Walken, playing a character very similar to…Walken. His Don King hair, Queens accent, pauses, and intense blue eyes are as trusty as the sun. He also swears up a storm. Farrell, playing a writer doing a screenplay about psychopaths, comes dangerously close to many real-life ones, such as mob boss Harrelson, who has a tattoo of a scorpion on his neck. Rockwell and Harrelson are both pros at playing psychos, but they let their own particular quirks fly here. The crowd yelled and clapped when Rockwell, in the film, went on and on about an imaginary fight scenario, his eyes growing bigger, his hands a flurry of movements. There are also some choice cameos, from Gabourey Sidibe to Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton.

At a Q&A after the screening, McDonagh cited his influences for the film: Robert Mitchum’s priest-and-murderer drama Night of the Hunter and the movies of Terrence Malick. Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets, with all its revenge violence and city sleaze, also came up.

“It was an attempt between pure darkness and something more different,” said McDonagh. Added Farrell, “The film has a certain kind of chaotic nature to it, but it was really, really easy to shoot.” No crazy stories, in other words, or behavior.

Walken, when asked about taking on the role of a dognapper plagued by, yes, psychopaths, joked in that deadpan way only he can muster, “Yeah, I’m getting those parts now, uncles and granddads.” And psychopaths?

For more film news, including coverage of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival follow @solvej_schou

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Seven Psychopaths
  • Movie
  • 110 minutes