Tuesday 30 August 2011

"Maybe that's what hell is, the entire rest of eternity spent in fucking Bruges."

            A few weeks back the trailer of upcoming film Coriolanus sparked, or rather re-sparked, my love for one of the coolest, most versatile, incredibly good-looking, and gargantuanally talented actors working today- Mr. Ralph Fiennes. The first film of his that I saw after this was In Bruges.

             I had only seen In Bruges once before, and that was when it first came on the telly about 3 years back. Having seen it again, I realise how much they had censored it- nothing censors quite like Indian HBO. Still, I had thoroughly enjoyed it, and found it very funny and violent and Irish. These were the only ideas that had remained with me since then. Seeing it now, the film felt like so much more, and it meant so much more to me than I could have imagined. But I'll get to that part later.

              In Bruges starts with Ray's (Colin Farrell) narration explaining how he had gotten a call to dump his gun and go to Bruges at once, and he was following orders. Ray is a young, slightly restless and well, tasteless man, who is accompanied by an older, calmer, relatively well-spoken man Ken (Brendan Gleeson) in his little exile in Bruges. Ken seems to really like this "fairytale" Belgian city; Ray, however, is another thing all together. He hates it there, thinks it is a shit-hole, and is really miserable all together. We later find out that both of them were marksmen for this man named Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and Ray's real misery came from his first hit-job, in which while successfully killing a priest, he accidently killed a little boy. He is ridden with guilt, and while he seems to find temporary solace in a beautiful, drug-dealing Belgian woman named Chloë (Clémence Poésy), Ray is out to "top" himself. We soon find out that Harry has similar plans for him, with the help of the sympathetic Ken.

                  I think I am getting slightly better with making vague summaries, though I have given out a major spoiler. Ah well, also know that there is a midget-actor called Jimmy, some very angry Canadians and alcoves involved.

               Acting-wise, the main three men are glorious. Since this started because of Fiennes, I'll talk about him first. Though Fiennes has made a name for himself playing villains, I think Harry was one of his most iconic villainous roles. During the first two-thirds of the film, we only hear him couple of times, and rest of the time he is spoken about by Ray and Ken. Still, he has already made quite an impression in our minds as an impatient, foul-mouthed crime boss with some idealistic principles. When we actually meet him, he proves to be exactly that. He is funny and dangerous at the same time, which is something few actors can do as well. One cannot hate Harry because we know that in all that anger, he still makes sense, and despite being a "cunt", is a bit of a softy. I think this was the most hilarious character that Fiennes has ever played, though the glare of his eyes is still as scary as ever. The climax for his character was one of the most ironic things I have even seen onscreen, and it was absolutely perfect. Moving on, Brendan Gleeson as Ken was adorable. If Harry was the more crueller side of a human being, Gleeson was the sympathetic one. He too was right in his own way, and believed in forgiving and forgetting. His final act in the film is nothing short of heroic and is shot so beautifully and poignantly, that it will remain with me forever...especially that last line. I think I have only seen Gleeson's work in Harry Potter apart from this, and he just seems like such a talent- sort of like a Paul Giamatti who can do the clever dramedy bits to perfection. Colin Farrell in this film never fails to amaze me. Honestly, I had always thought of him to be like Keanu Reeves- an actor who can make a career on being expressionless, with the right roles. Ray was a revelation. I think his character is so tragic, and still he manages to put so much humour in it. But his humour is of the pathetic human kind; the kind we only have at times of great distress and sadness when we keep trying to act normal. I love it when he is full-on Irish, and Ray was so drunkenly, rudely Irish. He was just fantastic, and rightly deserved that Golden Globe.

                  The film was the directorial debut of Martin McDonagh, who also wrote the film. I didn't know this before, and I think it has now become my favourite directorial debut ever, alongside Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides. The dialogues, the look, the acting, the idea, the concept of such darling dangerous men, the sort-of prophetic ending- brilliance! This film has some of the most hilarious lines ever...some which would be a dream to quote. I love the setting- Bruges really does seem some kind of unrealistic place, which is yet to be tarnished by humans, and that makes the film all the more effective because we have some great scenes of violence in such a place. These two equal themselves out completely. 

              Now the following are the things that stood out for me this time round. Firstly, the music. The score is composed by Carter Burwell. I must admit that it has been a relatively recent development when I started caring about film scores. The first film I remember, whose score had a profound effect on me, was The Hours. In Bruges's score was something like that for me this time. From the dreamy "Medieval Waters", to the crescendoing "Shootout", and the few folksy songs like "St. John, The Gambler" and "On Raglan Road"- they all heartbreaking and beautiful. I am officially obsessed with them now.

           The next thing is much more personal. I am, at this juncture of my life, sort of like Ray in Bruges. And I personally was in love with Bruges throughout the film, and it just gets to me that that is how everyone else sees my Bruges, and I can't. So you understand how In Bruges, in this random viewing, became one of those films that transcended the screen and become part of my life in a way that I will never be without it now. I will always remember it, not only for the humour and the cusswords, but for the heart and the poignancy and the ideas it presents us with.

          My final thought is that In Bruges is a lovely film which presents a very human side to all the "bad" people of the world. I love things like The Godfather etc., but I think I like the idea of a gangster shown in this film so much more. Ouch...that's gonna come bite me in the arse later. But who cares- you're all inanimate fuckin' objects! Bruges, the fairytale and the hell, is all that matters.


  1. The more I see this film the more I love it, which seems to be the exact opposite reaction of those around me. Something about its dreary sort of moody mentality appeals to me. That and it has a killer dark humor - Ralph Fiennes is epic. I wouldn't dare even begin to count the number of times I've gotten annoyed at something (e.g. my computer) and the first thought that sprung to my mind was "you're a f***ing inanimate object!"

  2. "I'm sorry for calling you an inanimate object. I was upset."

    Oh, I love Ralph Fiennes in this. He was bloody hilarious. The whole movie is quite hilarious. I need this movie in my collection. Now.

  3. @Univarn- There are people who don't like In Bruges?! :O That mood and dark humour is brilliance itself! As is Fiennes and that quote. Thank you for commenting :)

    @Stevee- Yes Fiennes is God. I too need this in my collection. I can see it becoming one of those films which I will watch for everything.

  4. I still feel a bit sad that Colin Farrell didn't a) get an Oscar nomination for this and b) get some excellent film roles after. He's such a terribly underrated actor (who admittedly picks some questionable projects).

    On Ralph - the man is brilliant. To think he did this the same year of The Reader always impresses me...but he's one of the best actors, so not really surprising.

  5. I haven't seen all the nominees of 2008, but Farrell was seriously deserving. And yes, it is unfortunate he hasn't gotten good roles yet. As I said, I never thought that he was a good actor until I saw In Bruges. What has he even acted in bar Fright Night?
    Fiennes is amazing. I particularly don't care for The Reader but yes, he is such a brilliant, versatile actor!

  6. Awesome movie. Darkly hilarious and it made Colin Farrell cool again!

  7. The film is too awesome. I need Colin Farrell to be cool again.