Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Movie #279: In Bruges

In Bruges is a crime dramedy, I guess, starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, Clemence Posey, and Jordan Prentice. It was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar in 2008, which was why I saw it originally.

Ken (Gleeson) and Ray (Farrell) are two Irish hit men who, after assassinating a priest, are sent to Bruges by their hot-tempered boss (Fiennes) to lay low. Ray is anguished; when carrying out the hit, his first, he accidentally killed a little boy at prayer (for extra gut-punch, the boy had a list of "sins" in his hand when he died, one of which was "being too sad"). Ray attempts to cope with both the guilt he's feeling and with absolutely detesting Bruges - he has no interest in sight-seeing, and while Ken drags him around the city looking at Medieval architecture, he sulks and manages to be saltier than my stepson at a winery (which seems oddly specific, but let me tell you, it's saying something).

The first night there, they stumble across a film crew and meet Jimmy (Prentice) a dwarf (his preference on the term) actor, and Chloe (Posey), who, as she cheerfully tells Ray, sells cocaine and heroin to actors. Ray winds up snogging with her until her boyfriend/accomplice Erik (Jeremie Renier) comes to rob him, at which point Ray disarms him, blinds him in one eye, and after Chloe takes Erik to the hospital, takes her drugs, hooks up with Ken and Jimmy, and get very high.

The next day, Ken hears from Harry, who learns that he's to kill Ray in retribution for the little boy (Harry is a thug, but he has principles, and he's a devoted father himself). Ken goes to carry out that job, but sees Ray about to shoot himself, and intervenes. Feeling guilty for his own life of crime, Ken decides to try and save Ray, and puts him on train. Harry arrives in Bruges, and the climactic final night, in which everyone, basically, loses, plays out with bullets and beatings and blood on the street.

This movie is really well done. The shots of Bruges are amazing, and the script is tight and a lot funnier than the subject matter would indicate (my favorite line: "I was on a very powerful horse tranquilizer yesterday. Wasn't waving hello to anyone. Except maybe a horse."). The cast is small, which means we get to know them, which makes their fates a bit more heartbreaking. Even Harry, who's a dick, it's hard to watch him die because he dies tragically. You could compare In Bruges to Pulp Fiction, except that the dialog isn't so disaffected. Ray and Ken are both tortured by what they've done and what they have to do, but Ray, especially, tries everything to keep his mind off it. I think it's one of Farrell's best roles.

Oh, and: It's a game of A Tragedy in Five Acts. Maps fucking perfectly. Ray is the Son, Ken is the Parent, Chloe is the Lover, Jimmy is the Foil, Harry is the Authority.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Inception