Monday, March 03, 2008

In Bruges (2008)

* PT: Ray. Wadpaw: To exorcise his guilt.

* Hitmen on holiday: What could have been a Guy Ritchie rip is instead a melancholic riff on guilt and flexible morality ("Insulting my fucking kids? That's going overboard!"). There are laughs, especially in the first half of the film, but I didn't leave the theater grinning. The kind of film that will probably improve on multiple viewings once it's understood how the two halfs (the lighter, funnier first half and the dark, grim second half) flow into each other.

* Acting pretty spectacular, which is a given from Ralph Fiennes, clearly enjoying his splenetic role, and Brendan Gleeson. (Has anyone in the last twenty years gotten more mileage out of the gentle-giant archetype than Gleeson?) The real surprise here is Colin Farrell; freed from the constrains of Hollywood emoting, he loosens up, lets the words flow naturally and gives a small reminder of why he was considered such a big screaming deal in the first place.

* The humor on display is far ruder than the advertisements would have you believe. Writer/director Martin McDonagh is nothing if not an equal-opportunity offender -- at one point, Farrell tells a disparaging joke about Belgians. I spent the better part of two days retelling this joke to anyone who would listen.

* Film is also quite a bit more violent than the trailer lets on, which should be no surprise to anyone familiar with McDonaugh's theater work, but the trick is that he doesn't use his violence merely as window-dressing or punchline fodder; when Farrell blinds a guy with a blank, it gets a laugh, but the point is that he's doing it in self-defense and it comes back to haunt him later in the film. Just because Gleeson and Farrell are doing the odd-couple thing in a scenic Belgian town doesn't mean they don't take their jobs as death-dealers seriously. The bell-tower death: early entry on my shortlist for Scenes of the Year.

* Films builds to an epiphany on the part of Farrell then wisely cuts off right at the moment of that epiphany. Good job Martin McDonagh.

Grade: B


Anonymous Jin Sekwuges said...

Just a "B"? That's only a bump up from Olga's House of Bras, or whatever that hot mess was.

At least a B+ or A-. Wonderful exception to the crap-time-of-year-for-movies-rule.

2:48 PM  

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