In Bruges ****
Alright, so I've only really seen about six movie from 2008, but I can tell already that "In Bruges" will end up being one of my favorites. Who knows? If the year ends up being shoddy and nothing special, maybe this film will end up on my final Top 10 list-a rare feat for anything that comes out this early in the year. It is the best film of the year so far, even though that isn't really saying much. But I kind of fell in love with this dark thriller comedy-yet another trip into the world of hitmen and professional killing. But this is different. They aren't drunk, like in "The Matador" or "You Kill Me," but it combines elements from all of those films- the buddy comedy of the former, the love story of the latter, and at the same time managing to find its own little niche and creating something original, funny, suspenseful, and supremely entertaining. And it might even make you want to visit Bruges.
But where is Bruges?
Well, its in Belgium.
And our main characters Ray and Ken (played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) have been told by their superior Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to hide out there after a killing goes horribly wrong. Harry tells them to quietly sightsee for two weeks and await further instructions. Ken is perfectly happy in Bruges-looking at all the gothic art and architecture. But Ray wants out. He hates Bruges. So since he can't leave, he looks for enjoyment elsewhere- mostly in the arms of Chloe, who works on a movie set that is using a midget for a dream sequence. And Ray has some kind of odd fascination with this midget-or midgets in general-although this midget has a theory that there will one day be a war between the blacks and whites-but that’s something else altogether. Eventually the true nature of Harry's plans for Ray and Ken come to light, and when instructions are not followed Harry finds himself in Bruges himself bent on making sure what he wants done is completely done.
I did not realize how hard it would be to write a plot summary for the film, but it is impossible without revealing any of the twists and turns that go out throughout. This is a packed movie- and where there isn't something going on that is moving the plot forward, there is enough going on with the characters to make everything interesting. Writer/director Martin McDonagh, who directed Gleeson in the wonderful short film "Six Shooter," which won the Oscar two years ago for live action short, puts so much dimension and depth into all of his characters, and through their conversations you learn so much about them within just little minute details. He likes to work with two characters on screen at a time, and its rare that there is something going on with several people-the group cocaine scene is one of the few exceptions I can think of.
Colin Farrell is absolutely fantastic as Ray, and when he isn't using his big mug in films like "Alexander" or "SWAT" he proves himself quite well. I thought he was very good in "Cassandra's Dream," but this is certainly his best role to date. Perhaps its because he's comfortably in his own native voice. Without revealing the true nature of Ray's anger and confusion, Farrell plays it wonderfully-at times he makes you want to laugh, and at others he makes you want to cry, and McDonagh's smart and sharp script balance the two elements perfectly. Gleeson is great as always, and I would have to mention a terrific shot of him on the phone talking to Harry, learning what he must do to set things right. It's all in one take, no more than a few minutes, but Gleeson works amazingly well in the scene. And Ralph Fiennes, turning in one of the funniest supporting roles in recent memory, also has his own share of depth and despair in his character, and even though we laugh or grimace in fear at him, he really does have some beautiful and poignant moments. The whole movie manages to have this unexpected air of poignancy in almost every single scene, and the final moments are haunting, but hilarious, all at the same time. And the visuals! The visuals are just quite beautiful, and the film really makes you want to visit Bruges.
I honestly kind of loved this film. I loved everything about it, and commend McDonagh on his wonderful work. As a big fan of "Six Shooter" the few times I saw it, I was looking forward to this when I first saw its trailers a few months ago, but I was surprised by just how perfectly everything clicked. How the mixed genres felt so natural, and how involved in the story I was- especially the third act which at times could have easily fell into farce territory (the way it brings all the characters from the film as a whole together again), and avoids that and becomes something rather sweet and hauntingly beautiful. And the great score by one of my favorite composers Carter Burwell adds something to the mix.