Marty is a writer trying to put together a phenomenal screenplay about psychopaths. The problem is that he keeps getting in his own way between a lack of ideas and perpetual state of drunkenness. Marty does not realize how close he actually is to find his inspiration by the people close to him. While attempting to write his screenplay, Marty’s friend, Billy, is working with an older man, Hans, to steal and return dogs for the reward money. Billy is a little too zealous and takes the dog of a psychotic gangster, who happens to be sleeping with his girlfriend. When Charlie realizes that his Shih Tzu gone, he goes on a rampage to get her back. This eventually leads the gangster toward Marty, Billy and Hans, who go into hiding to escape his wrath.
Starring: Colin Farrell (Marty), Sam Rockwell (Billy), Woody Harrelson (Charlie), Christopher Walken (Hans), Abbie Cornish (Kaya), Linda Bright Clay (Myra), Gabourey Sidibe (Sharice), Long Nguyen (Vietnamese Priest), Tom Waits (Zachariah), Brendon Sexton III (Young Zachariah), Michael Pitt (Larry), Michael Stuhlbarg (Tommy), Harry Dean Stanton (Man in Hat), Kevin Corrigan (Dennis), Zeljko Ivanek (Paulo), Olga Kurylenko (Angela)
This film is loaded with a lot of interesting performances by actors who all have significant flaws. Colin Farrell has played a drunkard before but this character was made for him. Outshining him though were the performances of Harrelson, Rockwell and Walken. Harrelson comes off as a expected casting of a psychopath with his rage and violence. Rockwell initially seems like a mere con artist but slowly is revealed to be much more. Walken’s staggered speech pattern plays well to creating the image of psychosis, even though he chooses more of a non-violent route. The women of the film, Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko, play directly into the message of the mistreatment of women in stories like this with their limited dialogue and impact on the story’s progression.
Martin McDonagh strung together a series of psychopathic stories to make a mosaic of psychosis-filled entertainment. The story most closely followed the screenplay development of Marty, who appeared to have no issues with psychosis but rather severe alcoholism. While he never fully has a psychotic break, his constantly drinking and choice of friends puts him in and out of danger throughout the story. Billy was the most interesting of the group, since he started as a mere dog-nabber and eventually was revealed to be the Jack O’Diamonds killer. He wanted to help Marty put together his story but chose to get himself into a violent situation to help push the creative process along. Hans, though a partner in Billy’s dog-nabbing, is actually a pacifist. Even though he came from a violent past, he was not directly responsible for any harm to anyone. The reality that he was actually the Quaker made for a great twist. Charlie was simply a clear psychopath from the beginning, with his ticks, compulsions and brash behavior.
The interesting element of this film is the fact that the psychopaths seemingly have little to do with each other but somehow are still intertwined to make it a full story. The film uses the development of the screenplay to tie it all together, but it is actually hard to see that screenplay as a successful one. The idea of merging together the Quaker story with the Vietnamese Priest story and the couple killers story just does not seem to fit. Added on top of that, Billy tried to pull them all together by throwing all of the characters into a shootout in a graveyard, which only seemed to solidify Billy’s psychosis rather than help bring the stories together.
This film barely suffers from a lack of consistency, but what would you expect from a story about psychotic killers? The characters are memorable and the concept is entertaining.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5