Review: (It's in Belgium.)

In Bruges

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh.
Starring Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, and Clémence Poésy.

Gangster films are played out. I’ll give the genre its masterpieces, but “serious” gangster films where preening pretty-boys try desperately to act as cool as humanly possible and jerk off their symbolic dicks just annoy the hell out of me. It doesn’t help that in real life, gangsters are predominantly fashion-sense-deprived morons with waaay too much testosterone, and as such, seeing men of that ilk portrayed as hip and cool in serious films just turns my stomach. So it’s refreshing that in Martin McDonagh’s fantastic first feature, In Bruges, allows its Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes to act like thugs (albeit relatively articulate thugs): short-tempered cunts with few redeeming qualities save maybe a bit of looks and charm.

So divorced from reality as they are, gangster films are fantasy films, of a sort, which makes the use of Bruges — “the most well-preserved Medieval town in Belgium,” according to one character — as the setting to this film so unexpectedly appropriate. It sets the characters apart from reality that much more, contrasting the bleaker elements of the film, and feeding into the genre’s absurdities cleverly.

Farrell absolutely shines as Ray, an uncultured dumbass and would-be hitman sent with Ken (Brendan Gleeson, the star of McDonagh’s brilliant Oscar-winning short, Six Shooter) to hide out in Bruges after botching his first job. While Ken makes the most of the situation, taking in the sights and culture of the city, Ray could not be less interested. It’s not until he meets the ridiculously hot Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) that he gains even the slightest bit of interest in the “fairy tale town”… and even then, not really.

If you’ve seen the trailer (here it is over at Apple), it’s no surprise that Ray and Ken’s boss, Harry (Fiennes), is eventually comes to town to settle a matter of honor, with Ray on the wrong end of his gun, but the reason why is one of the film’s highlights: a surprisingly weighty dramatic thread that bolster the film greatly. It’s a testament to the film’s superb cast and director, that (as in Six Shooter), In Bruges can so effectively balance a deadly serious emotional story, and yet keep the dark, dark humor coming throughout the film, up to the very end.

In Bruges opened in limited release on Friday, February 8. We’ll be discussing In Bruges Monday night (February 11) on The Triple Feature, so tune in at 9PM Central!

Posted on February 10, 2008 at 21:52 by Gordon@MovieMakeout · Permalink
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