You Gotta See This: In Bruges

Stars: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes

Rated R for language, violence, some drug use, 2008, Dark Comedy

Compare to: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000)

Ever like an actor, get sick of them, and then go back to liking them again? That’s how me and Colin Farrell are. In 02/03, it seemed like nobody could get enough of the guy and he was everywhere. But by the time Alexander came out in ’04, he was on the decline already and MAN, was that movie bad. I mean, just really, really bad. Three hours long too. Whew… Anyway, it seemed like he got sick of himself too and as of recently, has been making a sort of subtle comeback. He’s been making movies even if you haven’t heard of them, just not overexposed, pretentious pieces of crap like Alexander. Did I mention that Alexander was bad? His first of many “redemption” movies to me was 2008’s In Bruges and if you’re into Guy Ritchie films, you’re gonna want to see this.

Ken ( the always solid Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Farrell) are hitmen and are fresh off a job gone terribly wrong, thanks to Ray. Sent to hideout out in Bruges, a town that’s seems to be hidden away from the rest of the world, Ray is discontent with the history and sights the town has to offer while the ever-somber Ken eats it up. While awaiting further orders from their boss (Ralph Fiennes), Ray does what he can to cope with a recent mistake and not go insane in a town that he feels, is only making his life worse.

If that synopsis didn’t sound too enticing to you, not to worry, it’s not the story that makes this thing shine, it’s literally everything else: the characters, the dialogue, the comedy and action. It’s definitely not one that you’d call politically correct either, which is refreshing in way. Not that I’m into profanity and being offensive just for the heck of it, but it doesn’t feel like one social class or ethnicity is under fire here, it’s all of them. And even then, not to an excessive degree, it’s just that these characters don’t care or know the difference between proper and improper. Particularly when dealing with a thespian midget (or dwarf) whose encounters with Farrell are some of the best scenes in the movie. “You don’t know Karate!” says the Jimmy the dwarf to Ray, right before Ray lands an amateur Karate chop to his neck, the Jimmy dropping to the ground, writhing in pain. If there’s no humor in that, I just don’t know what’s funny.

Jordan Prentice, who plays Jimmy the dwarf (See, this movie has me all messed up. He’s a character who’s played by a dwarf, and they draw so much attention to that, it becomes difficult for it not to be seen as part of his character, otherwise I wouldn’t mention him being a dwarf at all. Oh, to be politically correct…) has an interesting filmography. Specifically playing the gigantic bag of weed in the dream sequence of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle (2004) and Howard the Duck in (pow!) Howard the Duck (1986). I guarantee he is the only actor who can ever boast to playing either of those roles in the history of film, so there’s always that. I’m sure any “little person (doesn’t sound right)” can talk about playing some tiny alien creature in any of the Star Wars movies, but this guy was Howard the dang Duck and a huge bag of Weed. He’s also in those straight-to-DVD  American Pie turds but since nobody saw those, we won’t hold it against him. I’m sure he showed up at a party to make it even wackier though.

For all it’s violence and ridiculousness, it’s actually easy to sympathize with the characters to a point. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a town that I just didn’t want to be in yet couldn’t leave. Ray’s selfishly absorbed nature coupled with his goofiness make for an intersting combination. One scene, he comes off like a bratty little kid, complaining to Ken about how everything in Bruges sucks and how he much rather be anywhere else, the next he’s shooting a would-be mugger in the eye with blanks and stealing his date’s entire drug stash. To be so unawarely violent and likable as he is sets us up for a highly unpredictable turnout. I wanted him to escape from his antagonist in the film, yet because of the things he had done before the film started, it seems justifiable that he should pay for his sins. And since the tone of the film is darkly comic, it’s hard to tell what direction they’ll take and I see this as a very good, very rare thing these days.

The best role though by far, is Mr. Harry Waters, played by Ralph Fiennes, who couldn’t do a bad job if he were in a coma. As the ruthless, impatient, foul-mouthed boss who sends our boys to this “fairytale” place, Fiennes is in the movie for probably about thirty minutes and has your attention for however long he’s onscreen. I’m not going to give anything away, but his presence makes you feel as though whatever character he’s speaking to may or may not walk away in one piece, but similar to what I mentioned above, it all feels funny at the same time. In keeping in tone with the politically incorrect nature, Fiennes goes to a weapons dealer and is offered an Uzi. His response being “(Scoffs) An Uzi? I’m not from South Central Los f—ing Angeles. I didn’t come here to shoot twenty black ten year olds in a drive-by. I want a normal gun for a normal person.” It didn’t cross my mind that this might not be the most appropriate line to quote when describing how funny this movie is until after I saw the look on a recipient’s face, but what can you do.

That’s a big thing in this movie for me, is how quotable it is. Almost every line seems to be tailored for repeated quotes between friends. The banter is light, quick and some things go in and out of how funny they are. Line that were hilarious before don’t matter to me now and line that fell flat are now the best parts. As I mentioned above, it’s easy to compare this to a Guy Ritchie film but it’s pacing is something entirely different. If you’re not easily offended, try it out. Also, as a heads up, the writer/director of In Bruges, Martin McDonaugh, has new film coming out later this year called Seven Psychopaths, which stars Farrell again, along with Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell and involves kidnapping an gangster’s shih tzu. It’s on my Top Films of the Year to See and if that cast isn’t at least interesting to you, then you deserve to have True Romance-era Walken pay you a visit. But not Prophecy Walken; I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

But I WILL give you one last glimpse of “awful.”

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One Response to “You Gotta See This: In Bruges”

  1. wjlewis Says:

    I like this movie a lot! I have been telling Chris to see it too because I think he would like it and because he has been there.

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