...glasses. A couple of weeks ago I finally saw Martin McDonagh's In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, and I can't believe I haven't reviewed it yet! It's been on DVD for a few months now in the US, but it's still on its last legs in theaters here in Australia, and I am so glad I finally saw it. And Farrell wears glasses in one scene and looks very dashing.
I knew going in that this movie was "sad," so around every corner I was wondering if/when/how one or both of the protagonists would die. I suppose I'm glad I knew what kind of mood to be in to watch the movie, but thankfully the film was engaging enough early on that I didn't miss any of the lead-up to the climactic set piece.
This is the first of Colin Farrell's performances that I've ever liked, and I was impressed with his vulnerability throughout. His character, Ray, had been through such a traumatic experience before the actions of the film that his pain shows through the cracks in every scene. Whether he's being a bored tourist or trying to impress local ingenue Chloë (previously Harry Potter's Fleur Delacour, Clémence Poésy is stunning whenever she's onscreen), Farrell makes it seem as if it would not be a surprise for Ray to break down at any moment.
Brendan Gleeson, as Ken, is a stalwart straight man to Ray's unpredictability. He's lived through enough trauma and bleak situations to harden any man, but he is still level-headed and has the ability to look at the world through optimistic eyes. His pleasure at experiencing Bruges as a tourist was very enjoyable, reminding me in some ways of the "14e arrondissement" sequence from Paris Je T'aime, starring Margo Martindale as lonely tourist Carol.
Jordan Prentice was excellent as Jimmy, the sex- and drug-fueled actor finding himself bored and disappointed by everything he does. Many of the humorous moments of the film had to do with Jimmy, but in such a way as to lampoon the trope of little-people-as-comedy-fodder. I thought that much of the film's comedy came from an exploration of the perceptions of different nationalities in a European context. Irish, English, American, Canadian, and Belgian characters are present and something is made of each of their nationalities. This is a subject I've always been interested in (and has always affected me), and it was portrayed very compellingly.
Then, in the last act, Ralph Fiennes' Harry finally comes onscreen. One of the many ways in which writer-director Martin McDonagh's theatre background comes through is the leak of exposure to Harry throughout the film until he joins Ray and Ken for the denouement. What more can I say about Ralph Fiennes that we don't all already know. He's incredible. His portrayal of a London crime boss is so much more entertaining than anything Guy Ritchie's ever created. And the cherry on top is that his wife is played by Elizabeth Berrington, Tim's pregnant desk-mate in the Christmas special of The Office (UK)!
I highly recommend this movie. I love it when a small film sticks in my craw for a while after I've seen it. It had just the right amount of action and violence, a very sharp sense of humor, and more than enough pathos to go around. The parallel between the two scenes of a "little boy" getting shot was chilling, and as the build-up to the second scene slowly burned down the fuse, I was tingling with anticipation. This one's definitely joining my collection, I can see picking up more and more upon repeat viewings.