One thing I love about the movies is the fact that you can find a good one just about anywhere at any time. Whether it's a small indie flick in an arthouse theater or a late night B-movie on cable, there is an abundance of good films. You just have to do a little leg work to find them.
In Bruges is one of those small movies that will keep you skeptical up until the point you stick it in your DVD player. It's a movie with some top-notch talent - Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson - giving superb, proanity-laced performances (the F-word and all its derivatives are said more than 125 times in this 117 minute film), in one of those movies that you and your friends probably have never heard of and may not rush to give it a chance. The truth is, if you give it a chance, you will find a quirky and dark, yet insightful and hysterical gangster film that has the right amount of drama, comedy, and bloodshed and will leave you thinking at the very end.
Ray (Farrell) and Ken (Gleeson) are two hitmen who just completed a difficult job where Ray accidentally kills a child. Their boss, Harry (Fiennes), a family man who happens to be in the business of killing people, is not happy with the results of the hit, so he holes them up in Bruges, Belgium - which could be the last destination for one of the men. The two men spend their days in the medieval city sightseeing and visiting local pubs, like regular tourists. As Ken enjoys all the town has to offer, Ray hates it and continuously breaks into profance rants about fat people, midgets, Vietnamese people - often while drinking, snorting cocaine, and dropping ecstacy, but also while being 100 percent sober. While all this is going on, Ray also finds love in a woman named Chloe (Clemence Poesy), who actually tries to rob him, and befriends a midget actor named Jimmy (Jordan Prentice).
I have never been a huge Colin Farrell fan, but I must admit, the character of Ray plays to his abilities perfectly. He was allowed to use his natural Irish accent and profanity-laced vocabulary to his advantage. Farrell shows great range, going from a fun-loving stereotype-swirling guy in love, to a suicidal man ready to leave his life behind because the memory of a small child lying in a pool of blood continues to haunt him. Farrell, despite the profanity and violent nature (he hits a couple in a restaurant after they complain of his girlfriends smoking), gives his character a lot of heart - an unexpected thing for an apparently coldblooded killer to have. The same goes for Gleeson. He gives his character an even bigger heart and, while his views often differ from those of Ray, the two not only get along but Ken seems like a fatherly figure in a way, always looking out for Ray's best interests. They truly are the heart of the movie, and while some of their scenes may seem to drag, they all lead to an ending that will give you closure and hope that there is understanding in this world.
It also doesn't hurt that you have a fine actor like Ralph Fiennes as the antagonist of the story. He may not have a lot of on-screen time, but his presence is always felt, leading up to the portion of the film where he has a more prominent role - including several gunfights that are both exciting and funny.
Writer/director Martin McDonagh does an excellent job of weaving these characters together (both in his direction and writing) in this unusual gangster film that includes Ray karate-chopping Jimmy (the midget) in the presence of Belgian prostitutes while snorting lines of cocaine and arguing about what religions or creeds would join a race war between whites and blacks, or letting a fat guy chase him around the town square after telling him he and his two fat companions would die of a heart attack trying to climb the stairs of the bell tower. If that doesn't tell you how much this is truly an off-the-wall tale, I don't know what will. The amazing thing is, everything fits together perfectly, from the town to the characters to the story itself, that the blood and unpleasantness will not register in that, "Ewww, that's disgusting" way. While Bruges may not seem like much on the outside, once you're In Bruges, everything will come together if you give it a chance.
For a small film that never had a mainstream audience, In Bruges gives its devoted DVD fans a fair amount of special features to help you learn more about your stay In Bruges.
I am going to start off with the second feature in the bonus section - the gag reel - largely because In Bruges has restored my faith one DVD mainstay that should always be the best of the bunch. This gag reel is not only funny because it is nearly six minutes of footage laced with profanity, stereotypes and miscues, but its funny because the mistakes are honest, and the actors are having fun. There is a great sense of camaraderie between the actors, most notably Gleeson and Farrell, which is what makes this movie so successful. The funniest scene in this reel has Ray standing next to Ken looking toward the camera and then screaming, "They're filming midgets," before galloping out of the cameras view. Gleeson then turns and says, "Ray," before he runs off the screen. All you hear after that is Farrell yelling, from way over yonder, "F**k off. Midgets," which is properly ensued by laughter.
While at times interesting, the deleted and extended scenes feature is exceedingly long and very much unnecessary. Yes, some of the scenes are funny while others are meaningful (some fill in parts of the story you might like to see and it's a shame they were left out of the movie), but it's almost like watching another version of the movie with the feature clocking in at almost 35 minutes.
"When In Bruges" has writer/director Martin McDonagh talking about his inspiration for filming in Bruges. He says while he was blown away by its beauty while walking around, after a little while he was bored out of his mind. That little tidbit pretty much describes the two different characters (or as he says, "the two different sides of my brain") he created in Ken and Ray - Ken, who loves the surroundings and sees Bruges for the beauty it possesses, while Ray hates it and wants to get the hell out. The 13-plus minute feature also has interviews with Farrell, Fiennes, Gleeson, Poesy, Prentice and others, talking about the city and the film itself. If you want another seven minutes of the same type of feature, wondering why the city of Bruges has never been used in a film to go along with more behind-the-scenes footage, watch "Strange Bruges."
One of the odder, yet more creative features of the group is called "A Boat Trip Around Bruges." Yet, while you're waiting for some idiot to narrate the feature, all you see is the front end of a red boat sailing in muddy-looking water, while high-pitched music plays and little known facts about Bruges scroll across the top and bottom of the screen (luckily not at the same time, because that would be almost annoying as the music). When they said a boat trip around Bruges, they really mean you're taking a five minute POV cruise around water that looks unsafe to look at.
The final feature is "F**king Bruges," which is actually quite pointless yet really funny. It is literally 1 minute and 21 seconds of cutting to all the profane language in the movie - the most popular words being f*** and shithole. I have seen some useless features in my days, but this takes the f**king cake. There is absolutely no f**king point to making this f**king feature, because all it does is drive you f**king crazy and makes you f**king dizzy with all of its f**king choppy cuts. It's f**king crazy. You know what, f**k this, I'm f**king out of here.