Sunday, December 14, 2008

In Bruges (it's an odd film)

hey everyone

well, as regular readers are aware, it's increasingly rare that we get to sit down and watch a film these days. unless it has Shrek or some sort of talking, singing and dancing animal in it, of course. with all the ranting, raving and generally positive reviews of In Bruges doing the rounds, however, we thought we had better sit down and have a look at it. was it wise to find the time to do this? i think so......

plot? plot. two Irish hitmen, Colin Farrell (a hit and miss actor, still not forgiven for the Miami Vice debacle - Crockett with a ponytail??) and Brendan Gleeson (a "character actor" that you have seen in a dozen or so large-ish movies), are sent to lie low in Bruges, Belgium after doing a "job" in London, England. their orders are to wait there for a call from the boss, the excellent Ralph Fiennes, in regards of their next job, task or whatever one would call it.

the better read of you will have guessed this, but a *** SPOILER WARNING *** anyway. for the better read as said, the plot is effectively Harold Pinters' The Dumb Waiter moved to a more scenic locale, an extra twenty minutes or so shoved on the end and a new, yet equally ambiguous, ending tacked on.

*** SPOILERS FINISHED (I THINK) *** now, this was more or less "sold" to us on the basis that it is a comedy. in truth the film is a comedy at heart, but one of a dark, macabre nature. it's very dark indeed in places, and the more sensitive film watchers would probably be better served watching something else entirely.

there's much to like about In Bruges. the clever, crafty plot elements knit together rather well, with a style and flair that we have not seen since the likes of Reservoir Dogs and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. those two films in particular seem to have given writer & director Martin McDonagh much of his motivation; at least the bits that are not taken from Pinter as mentioned in the spoiler section.

when this film is funny, it is really funny. there are a number of key, outrageous moments and sequences that one can't but help laugh out loud at. i cannot really repeat any here, for reasons both plot and language related, although applause has to be given to the scene with the American tourists, and the message left by the "boss" when he first tries to call them.

on the note of the "boss" character, can there not be some law put in place that Ralph Fiennes has to be in "x" amount of films every year? he is brilliant, but so rarely used.

likewise, there's a fair bit to dislike about the film. whatever gifts McDonagh has in regards of a clever plot and telling a good story they do not, sadly, extend to characterization. like Tarantino, he seems unable to create a character beyond a shallow sketch of cliche-riddled stereotypes. do we really need yet more stereotyped Irish idealism in cinema? does every Irish character need to be the epitome of all guilt, be the only source of the power of redemption and be passed off as dispensing wisdom mostly due to a frilly accent?

Colin Farrell's character is so badly constructed and presented that, and this is a big one for me, you have to acknowledge that Mr Farrell is a rather good actor to have pulled this off. i really don't want to go into any plot details, but there's such a wide, schizophrenic range of emotions and characteristics that his character is supposed to have in the 48 - 72 hour time scenario of the film that don't get realised it's as if he is an entirely different character from scene to scene. he pulls this off somehow, yes, but when you sit back after the film and think about it, you kind of wonder just who or what he was supposed to be. maybe the trick is to just not think about it, then.

overall, the witty moments, Ralph Fiennes and the curiously woven plot elements make this film well worth your time seeing. those harping on about this being the "best film of the year" and demanding it be showered with love and awards are, however, sadly mistaken. that feels like something of a sitting on the fence approach to reviewing it, but as the director spent so much time on the fence with the characters, you might as well join them.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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