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Seven Psychopaths (DQ)


Stars: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Waits, Gabourey Sidibe, Zeljko Ivanek, Brendan Sexton III, Kevin Corrigan

Director: Martin McDonagh

A really weird black comedy that struggles to find a tone with which it's comfortable. But you may get a few uneasy laughs from its quirky dialogue.

The film opens on two Mafia hitmen on a bridge waiting to 'off' their next assignment. Casually walking up behind them, a man in a red mask draws guns and shoots them both. This is the notorious Jack of Diamonds killer, who leaves the aforementioned cards on his victims. He's Psychopath number 1 in a book to be written (when he can overcome writer's block) by alcoholic Irish crime writer Marty (Farrell).

Unfortunately, Marty has two friends, the hyper, ever-fantasising Billie (Rockwell) and dour sixtyish Hans (Walken), whose wife is dying in hospital, who between them run a profitable sideline in dog-napping. Billie steals the pedigree pooches, and Hans returns them for a fat reward.

But they run into trouble when the steal a shih-tzu beloved of psycho-gangster Charlie (Harrelson).

We meet the title's other psychopaths a) in stories told to Farrell by Rockwell, and b) in a real-life visit to the author by Zachariah (Waits), who regales him with tales of 60 years of serial killing.

It's pretty obvious who the Jack of Diamonds is, but this is a film for a show-off, would-be smart director who will playfully put style before everything, while at the same time quite ingenuously knitting various threads of the story together. Walken and Rockwell both remain highly watchable in showy roles, while the once highly-rated Cornish is barely in it. Still, unlike too many of this year's movies, at least it isn't dull.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by deluxe.
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 30 Nov 2012