Seven Psychopaths

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on September 18, 2012

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Dear Elena Balshem
Costume Shopper

Dear Elena,

Not since Pulp Fiction has wardrobe been so important for a band of killers. The _Seven Psychopaths _in Martin McDonagh's new film look like soldiers of the Salvation Army marching on the Republic of Ralph Lauren. No doubt that you ran frantically between second-hand stores and high-end retailers trying to find all the right outfits to layer this disarmingly charming black comedy. Well, I'm happy to report that your choice of distinctly American apparel provided a refreshing redressing of this down-on-their-luck gang of deadbeats.

The trend of overly-articulate, pop-culture-spewing gangsters has been a la mode in Hollywood for the past two decades. That's one of the reasons McDonagh succeeds--the premise is painfully self-aware, even though the characters aren't. Colin Farrell is a Gap-wearing writer looking for inspiration to dress up a screenplay that has little going for it but a catchy title: "Seven Psychopaths. His loyal friend, played by Sam Rockwell, is trying to help, but his manic suggestions reveal that he isn't quite as cool as his burgundy leather jacket suggests. Woody Harrelson, playing a gangster in broad collars seemingly tailored circa 1978, has his Shih Tzu stolen by Rockwell and in his quest to retrieve the pooch, wreaks vengeance on anyone who stands in his way. But the best-dressed award - and most memorable performance - belongs to Christopher Walken, whose classy cravat conceals his dog-stealing day job and cutthroat commitments.

In the secondary roles, costumes and characters get even louder: from an ex-Vietcong soldier who masquerades as a priest to an Amish farmer hell-bent on revenge. There are also a few scantily clad women lounging about, but their relevance to the story is just passing fad. This film is firmly in the men's section, bearing guns and glory as a signature piece, but unafraid, at times, to reveal its delicate underthings.

When the collection of psychos is finally revealed, it's a nice to see the film hasn't traded style for substance. Caring about psychopaths isn't easy. But in this case, it's all the rage.

Keep shopping til you drop, Christopher

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