“That’s for John Lennon, you Yankee fuckin’ cunt!” – Ray, In Bruges (2008).
From that above quote alone, you can probably tell what type of film this is. A truly dark and sinister comedy set In Bruges (in Belgium) surrounding two assassins waiting on a botched job. I was very much looking forward to this one and even went out to buy it on DVD. It wasn’t until I’d gotten back home that I realised my Dad had it on Blu-Ray. Regardless, I ended up watching it right after An American Werewolf in London (1981).
As far as comedies go, this is possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was a genuine pleasure to watch this film. Some of the ongoing jokes throughout the film such as Ray’s hatred of Bruges was genuinely hilarious. There are a lot of funny, standalone scenes throughout also, most of which included Gleeson.
I’ve never been a fan of ambiguous endings, but for this one it makes perfect sense. Not knowing what exactly happens to Ray was the perfect way of ending this film. To be fair it only makes sense given the many twists and turns throughout.
Martin McDonagh is a director I have seen nothing of, but I’m really glad that this film was my introduction to him. What better way to introduce someone to his work than with one of the funniest films of all time.
I’ve never seen better chemistry than the relationship Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson have in this film. Honestly as far as on screen duos go this may be one of the most underappreciated of all time. Farrell and Gleeson work extremely well together and even throwing the ever great Ralph Fiennes into the mix works wonders. For the most part though, the film solely explores the relationship between Farrell and Gleeson as they set out to waste some time in Bruges. They work extremely well together, both hating and helping one another as the film goes on. What surprises me the most is that the two are both oddly likeable, even for hitmen.
The likeability of the two is definitely because of the performances. Brendan Gleeson is swiftly becoming one of my favourite actors of all time. His performance here is one of genuine interest and contrasts that of Ray very well. He seems genuinely interested in the history of Bruges and becomes very upset when Ray doesn’t. The two manage to present that relationship of loveless holiday couple extremely well. By far it’s the best part of this film to see Ray fucking about with a chair at breakfast. The twists and turns in the plot test their friendship and it’s perfectly presented throughout.
See, In Bruges can be added to a list of films that is now three films long. I’ve watched well over 800 films now, and there are only three that I have seen kill a child. Trainspotting (1996) and Postal (2007) which just has a genuine massacre. There’s still a lot of shock value to the death of a kid in films, and In Bruges manages to make it one of the biggest plot points of all. See it’s stuff like that within this film that manages to blend the drama of In Bruges into the comedy so well. Ken’s talks of not leading a righteous and moral life is very well done and performed superbly by Gleeson.
One of the main reasons for the comedy in this film is of course that the two are Irish. I guess the film does intend to play into the stereotypes of the Irish. Every other sentence, Farrell seems to be swearing at Americans or taking the piss out of religion. Regardless of stereotypes, it is genuinely hilarious and possibly one of the best parts of the film. Some parts of the comedy were just genuinely wild. There’s a bit where they discover a midget actor is a racist by getting him high on cocaine. They also find out he has a massive addiction to horse tranquilisers. There are two types of comedy, and In Bruges plays into the “what the fuck” portion of comedy. God that conversation between Ken, Ray and Jimmy was genuinely hilarious.
As always though, I was quite concerned when the film seemingly tacked on a romance subplot. Luckily they didn’t go through with the entire thing, I don’t remember them doing so anyways. Without it I do suppose the story wouldn’t have worked as well as it did, but it’s always nice to watch a film that has no inkling of romance. Where credit is due though, the chemistry between Ray and Chloe was stellar. A peg below that of Ray and Ken, but to be fair nothing could have topped that. The two had some great scenes together, specifically the blank revolver and the restaurant scenes.
I know I mentioned the stereotypes of the Irish, but these stereotypes, on reflection, are intentional. If anything, the film highlights stereotypes just to make fun of them and stamp them into oblivion. Genuinely it is riveting stuff, it goes from jumping into stereotypes only to make fun of them. The blending of comedy and drama is superbly done and through this use of stereotypes it seems much more obvious. Hell, even the planting of jokes early on is fantastic, with some of the jokes only becoming clear right at the end of the film. These jokes wouldn’t work of course if it weren’t for the fantastic cinematography and direction.
All in all then, I have to disagree with Ray. Bruges honestly does look like a fairly decent place to go. By far the best part of the film is the comedy, however the sprinkling of action throughout was the perfect finesse to an otherwise brilliant film. By grabbing half the cast of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), the film manages to create some mind bendingly brilliant chemistry. A genuine marvel of a film that I simply could not recommend enough. This is quite possibly the funniest film of the 21st century and there’s no reason to not watch it.
Between Ralph Fiennes swearing in pretty much every one of his lines to Ken having a pretend conversation with an absent Ray. There’s pretty much something for everyone in this film. A screenplay full of laughs to the point where you’d expect it to win an Oscar, McDonagh has crafted one of the smartest comedies of all time. From the soundtrack to the acting, this is truly brilliant.