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Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu.

Though it's really not that simple. Or complicated.

The idea isn't that difficult. Marty - the screenwriter, just so happens to have a somewhat psychotic friend: Billy - who also happens to have a psychopathic friend: Hans. Billy and Hans run a small business of kidnapping dogs, and handing them back to their rightful owners expecting generous reward (Hans to pay his wife's hospital bills; Billy with other intentions), and one day one of those dogs just happens to be a dog belonging to Charlie, a pretty criminal kind of psychopath.

There aren't really seven of them, though there are in the story Marty's writing. There are really only three with central roles. When Billy puts out an ad asking psychopath's with interesting stories to call Marty, and maybe have their stories told through his movie: one more appears. An outsider. He contributes, but doesn't have much to do with the real story at all. And then there's the imaginary guy who's story keeps changing: the Vietnamese psychopath, whose hooker's fate keeps changing with him. Ultimately what happens to him depends on who helps Marty write his story.

The psychotic nature of each character isn't revealed at the beginning. It takes a while before all the pieces fall into place, and though it's a very whimsical and nonsensical action/thriller/comedy/drama at times, it's also a very serious, sensible and tastefully scripted one, and at other times both violent and disturbing - but it paints a picture of psychopaths as more than just psychos.

To explain them as beings simply 'incapable of feeling' would be to say too little, and to try to explain what they are would be saying too much, but the movie has a nice way of explaining their nature without intently focusing on it: they go beyond definition. They're human, too. Their traits and characters vary, as with anyone, and the lack of empathy shining through the cracks of their seemingly unintentional charm, and their uncompromising humor, feels dangerous... yet they don't seem like intently bad people.

I guess I just wasted a paragraph on trying to formulate something I can't really put in words. It's better put in images, like the movie does. I don't mean to imply the movie in any way reveals what a psychopath is, but it plays with the concept, and characters, and delves into the details in vigorous and violent ways.

Both dialog and narrative is flush with unnecessary detail and character, and the actors work well together. There's Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and not least Colin Farrell as the somewhat unfortunate and unintentional script-writing main character. He always gets strange roles like this, it seems. Strange guy. There's probably a few other well-known actors there too if you know their names. Great cast.

All in all it was a refreshingly innate yet different kind of movie, that plays with setting as well as persona, with a perspective that frequently moves outside the plot. Great watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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