Beauty and ugliness, grandeur and seediness, equanimity and eccentricity,
spirituality and heathenism, boredom and shockingly sudden violence, drugs,
whores and dwarves all make for a spirited mix on the cobbled old-world
streets of In Bruges.
directed by renegade playwright Martin McDonagh, the film is a feast for the
ear with some of the finest quirky dialogue to reach the screen in recent
years. McDonagh's skill as an adventure film director is a little bit more
suspect, however the violence, as shocking and in-your-face as it sometimes
gets, is really secondary in this story of friendship, love, honor and
Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play Ray and Ken, two Irish hitmen who are set
up to work
together for the first time on a botched hit in London. Their shadowy
underworld boss orders them to lay low in the medieval Belgian town in the
title (pronounced Broahz) and await further instructions.
Ken is the
old pro, a middle-aged lifer who has enough blood on his hands that he is
actually happy for the break. He appreciates the beauty of the
surroundings and the opportunity to just get lost as a tourist.
Ray, on the
other hand is a bit of a loose cannon; antagonistic, miserable, but
undeniably charming. He also is completely distraught that his first
murder had a tragic ending, but not so distraught that he doesn't spend his
whole trip angling for the pub, bitching about the town, making deliciously
un-PC statements about American tourists and midgets and trying to bed every
attractive woman he crosses.
to stay in the town but have no idea what they are there for. The call
they are expecting from the boss never seems to come.
this isn't Tarantino adapting Waiting For Godot.
McDonagh points out Scorcese and Tarantino as inspirations as a filmmaker –
with In Bruges, McDonagh's filmmaking style is most reminiscent of
the film work of fellow former-revered-playwright-turned-movie-auteur
David Mamet – realistically elegant and complex street language
periodically punctuated by shocking violence. For better or worse,
critics have always used Mamet as a touchstone for McDonagh's stage work as
well. If you are going to be consistently compared to
someone, David Mamet is a pretty damned good place to start.
McDonagh also brings a distinctively European flavor and surreal charm to
the mix and In Bruges is a flawed-but-rewarding film debut.
can I say? The town – which has only been captured on film once
before in a 50s Audrey Hepburn project called The Nun's Story – truly is
stunning. Even if this film weren't so good – and it is – it would
be worth seeing just to experience a taste of Bruges.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: January 29, 2008.