they’re filming midgets!

In BrugesIn another great example of UK crime films. I went out to a theater to see In Bruges. Now I don’t know if this had any real domestic release or not, but I’d never heard of it until I had the misfortune to witness some of the “Trailer Awards” wherein its trailer was nominated for “most original”. If they really want to award a “Best Trailer” award, they should have it as part of the academy or globes or something… But it’s whole own awards show? Also it was hosted by Sinbad, which is bad enough, as he is possibly the least funny professional comedian. But what makes it even worse, is that for sub-hosts they had to find people even unfunnier than Sinbad! Argh! Anyway, I saw the trailer for this there. It looked odd, interestingly shot and possibly exciting… so off I went. And first off, the movie didn’t seem too much like the trailer, to me.

What was a it? Well, a couple of hitmen, fresh from a job, are sent to Bruges to sightsee and lay low for a while. Or so they think. The trouble is that during the hit (against a priest) a young boy waiting his turn at the confessional is also killed (an oddly sad and touching scene), which leads to a growing guilt on the part of our hitman, Ray, and creates a situation for his boss that needs to be resolved. Collin Farrell is Ray, an unpleasing, snide and petulant fellow whose relentless self-involvement has come into conflict with his guilt. Brendan Gleason is Ken, an old pro and Ray’s buddy. When they arrive in Bruges, Ken is quite content to spend the day sightseeing and waiting to hear from their boss. Ray, on the other hand, thinks that Bruges is the most boring and unexciting place that he’s been and talks endlessly of getting out of there… Until he encounters a film set and falls for a Brugian lady… And meets a midget. But until then, he whines continually. The first half is slow and sedate with lots of beautiful scenes of old town Bruges, which is a wonderfully preserved medieval town, with canals and everything, and Ray whining in the background. It is a fairly quiet and restrained black comedy, though none of the jokes are particularly witty and the dialogue is just alright. After a bit though, the plot thickens.

It turns out that their boss, Harry, has actually sent them to Bruges as a final gift for Ray, as Harry has his principles and the killing of a child is unforgivable so Ray must pay the ultimate price. Except that Ken is assigned the job and things start to fall apart from there. The movie changes direction on a lot of levels when Harry must come to Bruges to clean up this mess and deal with both of them himself. Harry is played by Ralph Fiennes and is really the high point of the movie. A hardened criminal who never really convinces you that he is a hardened criminal, he is nonetheless very serious about having things straightened out and sticking to his “principles”, and has no qualms about using violence against anyone who gets in his way (except for children, of course). So the action really picks up when he arrives. And add to this blend the continually reappearing midget actor and Chloë, the love interest with her troublesome friend and it is a fun ride.

In Bruges is a great film. Another example of how the UK has made the worlds best and most entertaining crime films for at least the last thirtish years (at least back to The Long Good Friday), a run that doesn’t seem about to slow down.


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