We’re introduced to this gorgeous 14th century Belgium city by two hit men hiding out from a botched job. If I ever get to Europe, I’m going here because it looks like a really cool place for nerdy history buffs like myself. Hopefully I won’t get chased around by murderous Londoners. The city is like a Rorschach test for how people experience the world and culture, and these two guys are polar opposites.
Colin Farrell is Ray, the younger of the two, a coarse Irishman breaking into the people killing business, mentored by Ken (Brendon Gleeson, Harry Potter). Ken LOVES the canals and the swans and the gorgeous buildings and the church with a vial of Jesus’ actual blood. It’s a wonderful vacation for him, except for pouting, brooding Ray, who spends nearly all of his time complaining and wanting to step out to the pub. He finally sees something interesting, a movie being made and one of the actors is a dwarf (Jordan Prentice, who could be Peter Dinklage’s younger brother). Even better than “They’re filming midgets!” is the very cute drug dealer he also meets (Clemence Poesy, The Tunnel). Now both of the boys are happy in Bruges, until their boss (Ralph Fiennes) calls them and things take an ugly turn.
The film is billed as a dark comedy and it absolutely fits that description. If you don’t mind two hours of seriously foul language, especially from Ray, this is a character driven comedy about a bunch of wildly mismatched people interacting with each other. But don’t be fooled, there are dark depths at work. These guys kill people for a living, they’re not innocent, and when things go ugly there are harsh decisions to make and harsh penalties to pay by characters you may not expect.
I found myself totally drawn into the story, which is well paced and gorgeous to look at. A lot of the film takes place at night or in otherwise dark places, but I never found myself wondering what was going on. The acting is good across the board, with Farrell pulling a lot of weight and laying his Irish accent on thickly. All of the characters are drawn more deeply than you might expect, and it’s difficult to maintain just one opinion of them. Is this person evil? Misunderstood? Stupid? I recognized the Ugly American Tourists. We’ve all met them, and that scene is really cringe worthy.
This is a film you should put on your queue. It’s well made, funny, and sometimes hard to watch.
In Bruges – Trailer