In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve tried to aim the entertainment column toward television – mainly because the Artsweek page seems to have everything pretty well covered when it comes to music and movies. But thanks to the good people at Magic Lantern, I caught a sneak preview of “In Bruges” last Friday, and honestly, there’s no way I couldn’t write about what turned out to be the most well-written and entertaining movie I’ve seen in a long, long time. Plus, I’ve always wanted to write the words “spoiler alert,” so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t want to know anything about a movie before hitting the theater, you might want to skip my column for a week… but just one week.
Right off the bat, I should warn you that this movie is much darker and deeper than it appears to be in its trailers. The plot includes murder, cocaine, midgets, guns, an odd discussion about purgatory, plenty of violence, lots of swearing, a shocking ending and enough off-color jokes to keep you looking around every few minutes to make sure it’s okay to laugh. Sure, it’s not politically correct to laugh at some of the jokes, and I’m sure plenty of people will take offense to the movie, but its hard not to enjoy a script that includes lines like, “If I’d grown up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me, but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.”
The plot revolves around a couple of hit men who are sent to hide out in Bruges for a couple weeks after a hit gone terribly wrong. The opening scene of the movie begins with Colin Farrell’s character – a young Irishman named Ray – telling us he “doesn’t even know where the fuck Bruges is,” before pausing a few seconds and stating, “It’s in Belgium.” From that point on, you know that you’re watching a different sort of movie than anything that’s been released recently. Writer-director Martin McDonagh’s script is brilliant, and Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson deliver every line and inappropriate remark perfectly. McDonagh is a relative newcomer to the film scene, but you’ll walk out of “In Bruges” anxiously awaiting his next project. He originally gained notice after winning an Oscar for his short film “Six Shooter,” which Magic Lantern was nice enough to show as well. “Six Shooter” was every bit as brilliant as “In Bruges.” So I suppose this would be as good a time as any to personally apologize to the Magic Lantern guy for booing when you told us that there would be a short break between films. The wait was worth it – and to be fair – I didn’t realize that you were standing a few feet behind me when I booed you. My bad, dude.
While McDonagh is a revelation, it’s also hard to ignore the acting jobs of Farrell and the rest of the cast. Farrell’s had some notable flops recently, but, at his best, nobody plays the lovable asshole better than he does. If he would just stick to movies like this one, while throwing in the occasional “Scrubs” guest appearance, Hollywood would be a lot better off. He plays the character of Ray flawlessly, and even after we learn that Ray accidentally committed an unthinkable act, he’s still impossible not to like. The main characters are all pretty complex, and you end up rooting for each of them, even when they’re calling Americans “a bunch of elephants,” beating up Canadian couples and karate-chopping midgets.
It’s hard to do a good movie justice in a short column, but after getting a sneak peek, I can’t imagine that many films this year will top this one. With the writers strike keeping shows like “24” and “The Office” out of our lives, it’s hard to get the necessary doses of violence and uncomfortable comedy that are truly needed in life. However, this movie offers both in one place, and assuming you have no qualms with jokes about retards, midgets or race wars, you really won’t regret spending a couple of hours this weekend “In Bruges.”