Recently released on DVD, this curious mix of thriller and comedy does not disappoint. Quirky, sarcastic, endlessly quotable, an ensemble cast gives this the feel of an indie classic and rated highly with critics. After a four year gap since his debut with In Bruges, director Martin McDonagh reunites with Colin Farrell starring as the token non-psychopath, much as a British movie might be expected to have a token American. A tone of the autobiographical might be seen here, given the long gap between work and writers block of his character. Yet, if this has been the case, it has certainly been worth the wait.
Violence gives way to some truly hilarious, laugh out loud moments as protagonists include an alcoholic Irish script writer with writers block, an ageing dog abductor with a less than pedestrian past, a gangster with a curiously intense adoration for his Shiatsu, Bonnie and an actor-turned-dog-thief-turned-serial-killer.
This delicious cocktail is enjoyed with the back-drop of sunny Los Angles, though hardly in the conventional sense. We see the desert outlying regions of the City of Dreams, a blank canvas for our peculiar heroes to face off against their pooch-praising nemesis. Like a child’s playground, the barren landscape is filled like a modern day cowboys and Indians, with the misguided capers of Marty, Billy, Hans and Charlie.
This film teaches its audience many things, and it is perhaps its relatability which makes it so appealing. Setting aside the fact that its protagonists are prone to episodes of murderous frivolity, and engage in casual practices of trigger-happy mania, they each contain characteristics we can relate to. There is the family man, the husband, the pal, the grafter. We see a brilliant man, down on his luck, substance abuse, a guy-you-would-have-a-drink-with-but-not-take-home-to-your-mother. Even a dog lover. We have all known, if not been that person. Though, hopefully, it must be said, minus the gangs and guns!
A touch of Hollywood is thrown in, making the whole thing seem like the sort of road trip you pray you would have the nerve to ride to it’s (in this case, bloody) conclusion. Stumbling upon some rare characters in their bumbling attempts to write a script, the cruel injustices of the world are revealed to us. Sometimes people are good, sometimes they are bad. But most of the time we are merely misguided or misunderstood.
A core value of this film seems to be that everyone cares about something, and we are prone to irrationality and outright bizarre behaviour in our efforts to defend those things. There is a lesson to be learned in accepting this in everyone, and accepting that sometimes, in getting what you want, you may be preventing another from doing the same, and you may well be expected to pay for this, in the long run. Acceptance, of life, of others, of the improbabilities and impossibilities that it presents to us, is a necessary teaching of life, that we all must learn, one way or another.
It is exceptionally rare that such missions lead us to desert shoot-outs with canine-loving gansters, but hey – this is Hollywood!
The only improvement could have been to not kill off Christopher Walken!!