I’ve seen this film a number of times, but I was asked to do a write-up for it and so I am. If you want to request viewings/movie drabble from me then feel free.
Martin McDonagh is a bit hit or miss with me. I adored his short film Six Shooter, but I wasn’t too hot on In Bruges, which everyone and their mother loves to rave about. In leaving the theatre after Seven Psychopaths, however, I was filled with the kind of elated giggly happiness that generally only follows watching two hours of spandex clad superheroes battle it out on screen.
To actually describe the plot of this film would be an enormous injustice. The brilliance is in the writing, and how McDonagh chooses to reveal information and progress the plot.
Basically, Marty (an author-insert if ever there was one) finds himself in a bind whilst setting out to write his next feature film. The film is called Seven Psychopaths—but he’s tired of violence and wants to write something with meaning. His friend offers him some help to get his creative juices flowing. It gets a little out of hand.
The most basic sentiment in this film is the difficulty of storytelling, or rather, of finding the right way to tell a story. That makes it sound like a pretentious French film, which it is not. There are guns and there are puppies and there’s Woody Harrelson.
The most attractive thing about this film is the writing (which makes it quite meta now doesn’t it). McDonagh understands that film is a visual medium, but since this film is about the struggle with the written word, he also manages to balance what could be an incredibly talky tedious film into something really outstanding. At every plot turn you can feel McDonagh working through the characters with a smile. It’s a subtle art to balance engaging storytelling with what now is considered Shamylanian “cheap” tricks. Seven Psychopaths is that balance.
Every thread is carefully maintained from a character’s first appearance to their last. Every set-up has a pay-off. It’s a very pleasing movie structurally, but that’s the last thing you’ll be thinking of whilst watching it. The performances are outstanding. I hope Sam Rockwell is getting laid like crazy because he’s so talented and charming and he steals the show in this film.
Colin Farrell plays a pretty great straight man, and although it’ll be pretty easy to overlook him when he’s sat next to Christopher Walken or Tom Waits, he’s the much needed anchor for this film. Without him, it’s just an enormous flight of fancy without emotional anchor and without drive.
It’s a brilliant film and I can’t recommend it enough and goddamn if it didn’t get snubbed for a screenplay nod at the Oscars.
I’m going to preface this review with saying that I identify as a primarily straight female. I feel it’s worth saying, since this includes “outsider” conjecture on some queer subjects. This was a film screened and discussed in my queer cinema class.
The Children’s Hour is a film starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine providing one of the earliest open depictions of homosexuality on screen not grossly mired in stereotype and subterfuge. The basis of the plot: Two school friends run a school for girls together. As Audrey Hepburn’s character plans to marry and carry on with her own life, MacLaine is confronted with the feelings she’s been experiencing all her life. The accusation of an eavesdropping child threatens to ruin their livelihood and bring the truth to the surface.
Okay, that said: This is an interesting film when one considers that, in reference to the content matter, Shirley MacLaine claims that she and Audrey “had no idea what they were doing.”
It’s pretty overt. The word “lesbian” is never used, but the love one woman feels for the other is pretty obvious and rather explosively addressed. I would say that McLaine’s ignorance relates more to in how the topic is dealt with—lesbianism as some dirty disease, something to be atoned for or ashamed of. Without spoiling the ending explicitly, this film helps set up a precedent for queer films that has carried on to today—these guys do not get a happy ending.
It was true then and it was true in Brokeback Mountain, the most recent most-talked about queer film.
The question then is whether representation of any kind is worth suffering these cinematic tragedies. On one hand, you have honest portrayals of real people rather than limp-wristed sissies or man-hating butch lesbians. It’s also relatively easy to skew the film to be about the gross restrictions society places on a queer individual rather than some kind of tragedy inherent in queer persons. Still, it would be nice to have a happy ending now and then.
I think The Children’s Hour is an astounding film for its time—and although the notion of “coming out” isn’t dealt with much dignity, the performances are very real and very affecting. Of course Shirley MacLaine would perceive her love for Audrey as some kind of unnatural sickness—that’s what the entire world, her own family, has been telling her all her life. There’s a lot of very interesting cinematography and pacing in this film that delve in to the psychology of this relationship that’s worth examining for any nerds out there.
There’s light to be found in the film if you’re willing to sift, though I would say that a stiff drink is in order after you finish screening.