Friday, January 30, 2009

'In Bruges'... incredibly surprisingly good...

'It's like a fairytale, that place...'

'In Bruges' is a wildly improbably film about three Irish hit men in Bruges, more foul-mouthed language than I have ever heard in any film, even one featuring the Mafia, and yet it's brilliant, hilarious and poignant.

It is like a fairytale on one level, with extraordinary gorgeous landscapes and a tremendous musical score but on another level, it's very brutal with graphic violence and even more graphic language. It all works. Studies of Hieronymous Bosch, philosophical discussions of hell-and-hell, bizarre characters with casual connections all move inexorably towards final intersections in tragedy.

The humour, above all, is original, biting, both sly and broad at turns. If no other film made last year is worth seeing twice, this one is.

Dialogue like this, for example:

Ken and Ray speak of their respective careers as hit men. When Ken mentions a collateral killing that took place in the course of a designated hit:

Ray: So you had to kill him, right?
Ken: He might've known karate. How would I know?
Ray: I thought you said he was a lollipop man?
Ken: He was. He was fifty to boot.
Ray: Well, what's a f..kin' fifty year old lollipop man doin' knowing karate? What, was he a Chinese lollipop man?... Jesus, Ken, I'm trying to talk about...
Ken: I know what you're trying to talk about.
Ray: I killed a little boy, and you keep bringing up the f..kin' lollipop man.

Most films heavily laden with profanities would be better films without it. This film actually is funnier because of the bad language. Like 'Trainspotting', it is unique and cuts like a razor. The humour undoubtedly is black and it is essentially a tragedy but that is part of its brilliance. It is highly irrelevant and totally politically incorrect.

This exchange, for example:
'What's Belgium famous for?'
'Chocolates and child abuse, and they only invented the chocolate to get to the children.'

At one point, a woman in a restaurant attacks Ray with a wine bottle as he is sitting at a table with his girlfriend. Ray responds, knocking the attacker to the floor, then looks at his girlfriend and exclaims:

'You've gone off me, haven't you? Just because I hit that f..king cow!'

Colin Farrell is amazing, Brenden Gleeson is amazing and Ralph Fiennes is perfect in his role. Above all, though, it's Martin McDonagh, writer and director, who has to be given the greatest credit for this unusual masterpiece. One only has to make ONE film like this to make a reputation that can outlive the creator.

I saw it once and immediately wanted to see it again. The second viewing was better than the first and I would like to own it. You have to be in a certain mood to watch it because it IS dark but, despite that, the brilliance of it satisfies on every level.

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