Meta doesn’t mean better

FILM

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS

Cert 18 | by Alex Dymoke
**

Writing a film about writers’ block is sort of confessing you can’t think of anything to say.

But writing isn’t only blocked by a lack of ideas. Blockages can also be caused by too many. The latter is a problem for Seven Psychopaths, the smart alec, whatever-you-can-do-I-can-do-meta new film from In Bruges writer/director, Martin McDonagh.

Colin Farrell stars as Marty, an alcoholic screenwriter who has a title for his new movie – “Seven Psychopaths” – but no plot, characters or dialogue. As he struggles to conjure fictional psychopaths, his life is overrun with real ones.

His best friend is Billy (Sam Rockwell), who runs a dog-kidnapping racket with his associate Hans (Christopher Walken). One day, Billy and Hans pick on the wrong dog; the beloved Shih Tzu of thuggish gangster, Charlie, played by Woody Harrelson.

The first half of the movie trades on a snappy, Tarantino-style pizzazz, and the second half chides the first for the cheapness of its thrills. McDonagh wants to have it both ways. In the end, neither of them are wholly successful.