dir: Martin McDonough
It’s not often that I am completely ignorant of a film’s content or worth prior to checking it out, but I can honestly say that I knew nothing about In Bruges, Bruges or director Martin McDonough before watching this flick.
Sure, I’d heard that it was an okay film, but I had no practical knowledge of what would transpire when I watched it. And that’s a good thing.
Two criminals, Ray (Colin Farell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are forced by their boss Harry (Ralph Feinnes) to take a little trip to a medieval town in Belgium called Bruges. We don’t know why for the film’s first half hour at least.
Ken finds the town beautiful, and is excited about doing some sightseeing. Ray is jittery, and acts like a reluctant five-year-old boy being dragged to cultural sights and delights that he couldn’t possibly give a toss about. Ken and Ray seem to have that snippy, comfortable relationship of people who’ve known each other long enough to know how far to go before pulling back, what, with the constant insults and sharing of drugs.
But then we find out why Ray is so jittery, and why they’re on an enforced sabbatical in such a lovely, idyllic but strange place. Much is made of the locale, and some distinctive imagery courtesy of one Hieronymus Bosch. And then, regardless of how we might feel about Ray and Ken, we know it’s only going to go downhill.
In Bruges is quite funny in certain parts, not least of which arises from Ray’s wicked ways, Ken’s world-weary but decent heart and the sometimes insane, sometimes brutal things that happen to them along the way. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a comedy, and it certainly shouldn’t be confused for one. The reason for Ray’s guilt and his desire for self-destruction is too horrifying, too absolute to ever take the film anything but seriously once it is revealed. Even when he jokes about it during a getting-to-know-you dinner with a lovely local lass that he really wants to shag (Clémence Poésy), you know it’s no joke.