Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Bruges (2008) ***

“Maybe that’s what Hell is.  You just spend Eternity in Bruges.  If so, I really don’t want to die.”  These are the words of Ray (Colin Farrell), a hit-man stuck hiding out with his partner Ken (Brendan Gleeson) after a job causes the accidental death of a young boy.  Why they are lying low in Bruges, Belgium is one of the many droll highlights of the movie, as their boss apparently thinks that the medieval buildings and history of Bruges make it “like a f--ing fairy tale” and a city that everyone should see at least once.  Ken actually agrees, and enjoys seeing the sights, but Ray sulks about and tries to avoid facing his crushing guilt over killing an innocent child.
“In Bruges” manages to maintain just the right balance between farcical hilarity and dark subject matter.  Ray is charmingly dense when he hits on a girl by making well-intentioned but un-PC banter about a dwarf.  When the dwarf turns out to be a whoring druggie with racist theories about the coming race war, the joke just gets funnier.  Farrell plays Ray with the perfect mix of melancholy and cluelessness.  Ralph Fiennes is chilling, yet hilarious as their boss Harry.
There are plenty of movies cast from this mold:  wisecracking, double-crossing cockney thugs being by turns hilarious and murderous.  “In Bruges” isn’t the best of the bunch, but it’s pretty good, and of course the setting is “like a f---ing fairy tale.”

3 stars out of 5

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