Most film nerds are familiar with director Martin McDonagh’s feature-length work, like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. But not enough people have seen his excellent 2005 film debut: the 27-minute Oscar-winning Irish short, Six Shooter. Martin first made a name for himself with a series of theatrical plays he wrote in the 90s, including The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Following his 2005 Broadway production of The Pillowman, he turned his talents to moviemaking and pulled his frequent theatrical collaborators into the cast of Six Shooter.
Brendan Gleeson stars in Six Shooter as Mr. Donnelly, a man whose wife has just passed away. It seems odd for Martin to begin with such heartache, since he is known for his black humor and stylized violence. But by pitting this dark occurrence against the absurd situations, his characters find themselves in, Martin creates a perfect environment for his trademark deadpan. This short is filled with great supporting characters, like the Kid who is played by Rúaidhrí Conroy. The Kid shares a booth with Gleeson on his train ride back from the hospital and quickly demonstrates a total disregard for people’s feelings, even though there is a hint of charm underneath all of his bullshit.
Martin laces the film with unexpected bait and switches. At first events come off as minor comedic moments, but later reveal themselves to be emotionally resonant devices. And death hangs over the entire production. But it is not a film about dying. In fact, each time a life is lost in the film, the tragedy is tempered with laughter. What Martin offers in Six Shooter is a film that is an edgy, funny, and bloody meditation on life.
Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at the Hamptons International Film Festival and screens for the Tribeca Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.
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