7 Psychopaths: making, undoing and parodying Federico Fellini

In this complicated and tragic 2020, certainly minor repercussions with respect to the global economy and public health have also had the cinema, with particular regard to cinemas and various productions that have not yet started. Unfortunately, among these there is the new and interesting project by the brilliant Martin McDonaghnoble Irish author already behind the excellent In Bruges, 7 Psychopaths And the handsome Three Posters in Ebbing, Missouri. In his works, the director especially likes to linger on the introspection of his charactersusually inserted in a comic-dramatic context tinged with crime, noir and detective. It is a particular and recognizable cinema that it also thrives on different theatrical characteristicsstarting from the composition of the dialogues and up to the use of the sets (including external), so much so that McDonagh is considered one of the most brilliant playwrights of his generation and has several and highly acclaimed plays to his credit.

More than in his extraordinary directorial debut with In Bruges and at what was three years ago the cinematographic consecration of his authorial genius with Tre Manifesti, he is however with the median project is more exasperated, eccentric and with an articulated concept that McDonagh expressed his artistic conscience precisely more theatrical, on the other hand, by approaching a giant like Federico Fellini. Not in the way you think, however, that is, imitating the author’s form or stylistic cut, because the Irish director has “trapped“in 7 Psychopaths some aesthetic and content themes of the great master of Italian cinema, adapting them to his personal vision of the crisis of inspiration of a renowned Hollywood author.

7 and a half crazy in search of an author

Proverbially it is said that 7 is the perfect number. This is so because mathematically speaking it is a so-called happy number and also a lucky number, because the days of the week are seven, because a moon phase lasts on average seven days, seven are the brightest stars of the Ursa Major and so on. It is no coincidence that the protagonist of the McDonagh film, Marty Franan (Colin Farrell), has therefore chosen to tell and combine the stories of 7 Psychopaths in the script of his new filmwhich, however, is slow to take shape, being Marty lacking in good inspiration and struggling with alcoholism problems.
It is not even a coincidence that the director chose it, to tell the truth, because at the same time it recalls some of the greatest masterpieces in the history of cinema such as The Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa or The Magnificent 7 by John Sturges (immediately giving the context of the context told) and is exactly one number less than 8 and a half by Fellini and a number more than the 6 characters in search of an author by Luigi Pirandello. These are all references that, above all in a thematic and authorial key, are clearly vivid within McDonagh’s narrative and dialogic constructwho nevertheless manages in his utmost ingenuity to make them his own and dress them with sophisticated genre clothes, interwoven with drama and comedy.

From Pirandello he extracts and reworks the discourse of the search for a character identity which can only become real and become concrete thanks to the help of an author able to represent emotions, contradictions, dramas and humanity of characters that otherwise remain random or incomplete. This is an intuition that the director then chooses to merge with a more hilarious reflection on the Loss of the Museto the absence of genius, of enlightenment, making reality and fantasy coincide just as in Fellini’s cinema.

This is where McDonagh looks beyond Pirandello and towards Fellini, however, replacing a director with a screenwriter (role more comfortable for him to deepen) and entering with a straight leg in the creative mechanisms of his art, which devoid of suggestions needs an external shock, given by his friend Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell). While the author tries to rehash Fellini, paradoxically it deconstructs and undoes it at the same time in an astonishing succession of situations bordering on the absurd, however they almost never intersect with the imaginative or the dreamlikewhich Marty (and therefore McDonagh) refuses with parodic impudence (“dream scenes are only liked by fr ** i“).

There is a clear play of truth and fiction that continues throughout the film, indeed starting from the very beginning, but it never transcends the limit of the potentially realaiming precisely at dreamy and cinematically sustained tones.

Yet the sense of Fellini’s and McDonagh’s cinema is the samebetween 8 and a half and 7 Psychopaths: making sure to rekindle the inspiration of a subject thanks to the help of his friends or characters, who in the imagination of the second they are even the exact same peoplein a perpetual interference between fiction and truth that stimulates the genius of Marty until the final Eureka, when the film is done, finished and released moment of maximum nihilism of the authorwhich becomes precisely in the end that extra Half Psychopath absent in the title.

7 Psychopaths: making, undoing and parodying Federico Fellini