April 7, 2021: In Bruges (2008) (Recap: Part One)
Man oh man, this one’s been a long time comin’.
Of all the films so far this month, this is one I’ve been wanting to watch for a long time, and I’m glad that I’m finally sitting down to watch it! To be honest, that’s mostly because the scene pictured about contains one of my favorite quotes. But I’ll get to it.
In the annals of modern black comedies, this is maybe one of the best known of all of them, outside of Arsenic and Old Lace, of course. Don’t know if this one is as funny, but I’m still looking forward to it. With Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes in the cast (all of whom are actors in the Harry Potter franchise...huh), the cast is well set up for a great movie. Who’s the director?
Martin McDonagh has a short but interesting career, mostly having been a playwright, before making his first major film, a short film called Six Shooter. I’ve seen this movie, and it’s...it’s a movie, all right. It’s free on YouTube, right here, if you’d like a look, and have 26 minutes to spare! It’s dramatic, though, and the themes are...rough. Just trust me, if you’re sensitive to stuff like death, you need to be wary, as that short has six separate types of death featured in it. Just trust me. It’s great, but not the most sensitive film.
Right after that short film, which was pretty well-received, McDonagh moved on to this film, then to the 2012 comedy Seven Psychopaths, and most recently onto the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, all of which have also been well-received. He’s got a good track record, is what I’m saying.
Those movies are also on my list, and I guess that’ll be my first complete director’s filmography! Neat! Let’s continue that trend by watching In Bruges! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Two hit men, both from Ireland, have performed an ill-advised hit in London, and are told to flee to Bruges, Belgium. The younger of the two, Ray (Colin Farrell), is absolutely not into this place, in any way at all. The other, Ken (Brendan Gleeson), is more optimistic, telling Ray to give the place a chance. This is especially considering that they’ve been sent to a hotel, and will be staying in the same room for two weeks, or at least until their boss calls them and tells them to return.
They quickly go on a sightseeing tour of the medieval city, with Ken embracing the tourism opportunity, and Ray just absolutely hating it, for what amounts to no good reason. As far as we know, anyway. Ken’s basically falling in love with the place, even after a minor confrontation with a man in an admissions booth. Ray, in the meantime, gets in his own confrontation with a group of very overweight American tourists. I should be offended, but it’s too funny for me to be offended.
That night, the two eat and drink at a local pub, where Ken suggests that they’re in Bruges for a specific reason, rather than just hiding out. After all, they could’ve just gone to Wales or England. Why Belgium? Still, Ray impatiently waits for the phone to ring with news from their boss, so that they can finally leave the country. Feeling cooped up, he convinces Ken to go out at night to look at the medieval buildings lit up.
But as they’re looking at a museum, they happen upon a photoshoot for a film of some kind. To be honest, though, Ray’s initially attracted there by a little person on set. But he’s kept there by Chloe Villette (Clémence Poésy), an attractive young women working on the film. He decides that his best opening conversation is a discussion about suicide rates amongst little people. And, uh...it works? Holy shit, it actually works.
When Ken returns to the hotel before Ray, he’s given a message by Marie (Thekla Reuten), the pregnant co-owner of the hotel with her husband. The message is from their boss, Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes), and is not only angry, but hilariously laden with the word “fuck”. It’s also very funny, not gonna lie.
Ray comments on this when he’s given the message the next morning, and Ken insists that they must stay in to get the call from Harry that night. However, considering his date with Chloe, Ray’s going out instead. Ken reluctantly agrees, with the condition that they go to visit places he’s been wanting to.
But Ray, being Ray, isn’t exactly chuffed by a visit to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, and eventually goes outside to think. We also get a glimpse of exactly why they’re in Bruges, and it’s...bad. It’s very fucking bad. See, Ray was assigned to kill a priest back home, and does so. However, as he’s firing at the priest...he also hits a young child praying in the church. And it’s...it’s bad. And it’s graphically shown, and it’s rough. Jesus Christ.
Well, after that haunting flashback, the two head to a museum to look at the paintings there, and muse upon the nature of the baroque paintings. They speak afterwards about the nature of being a hitman, and Ken remembers an instance where he killed someone innocent on accident. Ray, during this conversation, breaks down about the death of the child in the church. And it’s a legitimately dramatic scene, with Ray been understandably and properly remorseful about his actions. It’s very good. However, it also ends in Ray suggesting suicide, which Ken quickly discourages. Like I said...it’s a hell of a scene.
That night, after their heart-to-heart, Ray gets ready for his date with Chloe, while Ken stays in to get the call from Harry. On said date, he just...point-blank admits that he’s a hitman, and she takes it...well. Which isn’t a surprise, since she’s actually a drug dealer to Belgian film crews. Huh! The date goes, well...not well, to be honest, but somehow, despite telling her that he hates Bruges, AND getting into a fistfight in the restaurant with a couple, she still kisses him in the end.
Meanwhile, Ken gets a call from Harry, a VERY aggro man who loves his swearing, and also loves Bruges. He wants to ensure that Ray’s been having a good time, because he tells Ken that he must kill Ray, as Ray has killed a kid. Harry simply wanted Ray to have some good memories before he’s killed (not knowing that Ray actually hates Bruges). Damn. And Ken’s not exactly happy about it, either.
Back with Ray at Chloe’s place, they’re starting to have sex, and are interrupted by her ex-boyfriend/partner-in-crime, Eirik (Jérémie Renier), threatens to shoot him for sleeping with Chloe. However, he’s using a gun loaded with blanks, which Ray takes and uses directly in Eirik’s eye, blinding him. Chloe reveals that they occasionally rob tourists together, and Ray suspects that he was their next target. However, she insists that she actually likes him, and asks him to call her later, after taking Eirik to the hospital. Before he leaves her place, he also steals 5 grams of cocaine, and partakes in some of it himself.
He meets Ken at a pub, where the little person, an American named Jimmy (Jordan Prentice), is drinking, having hired a prostitute. He offers some cocaine to Ken, Jimmy, and the prostitute. And while Ray once again brings up the little person suicide conversation, Jimmy counters with a delightful conversation about an upcoming race war! That’s niiiiiiiice...
Soon after, we learn that Ken’s late wife was black, and was murdered in the 1970s. Said murderer was killed by a friend, one Harry Waters. Interesting indeed. Offended by Jimmy’s racist rhetoric, Ken leaves, and Ray karate chops Jimmy in the throat before leaving, too. The next morning, Ray cries himself awake, while Ken leaves to get a gun from Harry’s local associate, Yuri (Eric Godon), who reminds Ken of his duty to kill Ray.
When Ken returns to the hotel, Marie tells him that Ray gave her 200 euros for the upcoming baby, then headed to the park. Ken goes to kill Ray then and there, as he’s staring at a group of children playing. But then, on his way to shoot him, he finds Ray about to kill HIMSELF! And Ken, being a good friend after all, stops him, despite being about to kill him himself! This is a darkly funny situation, I tell you what.
Ray pretty quickly figures out that Ken has been sent to kill him, and the two sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation, with some goddamn stellar acting. Ken admits that he wouldn’t have been able to go through with it, while Ray admits that he can’t live with having killed a child. Ken tells him to devote his energies to save another child, and that they'll put him on a train to somewhere, allowing him to disappear.
After getting back to the hotel, Ken fills Ray in on Harry’s plan, noting that he wanted Ray to have a good last few days of life while on vacation. Ray rightly points out that the Bahamas or anywhere else may have been a better location to do this, as opposed to being In Bruges.
After this, Ken puts Ray on a train leaving the city, and is unable to confirm whether or not Ray will commit suicide. However, he lets him go regardless, and goes to call Harry and inform him that Ray is still alive. This enrages Harry, and leads to one of my favorite screamed insults in any film.
...I fucking love that scene. Anyway, Harry decides to go to Bruges and confront Ken himself. But in the process, Ray is taken off the train and brought back to Bruges in handcuffs. Why? The people (Canadian tourists) that he punched out in the restaurant earlier! Whoops!
In Bruges, Harry meets with Yuri to get a gun, then also discovers that Eirik is Yuri’s son! He basically tells Eirik that his now permanent blindness is honestly his own fault as much as Ray’s. He meets Ken in a café that night, and they engage in yet another well-known volley of insults.
After dinner, they head to the tower that Ken visited earlier. They encounter the admissions booth attendant from earlier, who refuses them admission until Harry beats the shit out of him, and Ken admits that he loves Bruges as much as Harry does. He says that he believes he did the right thing with Ray, and also that he honestly loves Harry for their shared past. And with that...Harry can’t kill him. Still shoots him in the leg, though.
Meanwhile, Ray is bailed out by Chloe, and the two go on a date together, where they also encounter Jimmy. And this is RIGHT outside of the tower. Eirik also happens to be there after all this, and sees the two together, as well as seeing Ken and Ray go up to the tower. He goes to tell Harry that Ray is downstairs, leading to a struggle between the two old friends, and Ken is shot in the neck! HOLY SHIT! Harry goes downstairs to kill Ray, as he’d always intended.
Bleeding out, Ken crawls away to the top of the tower, where the city of Bruges is shrouded in fog. And then...he fucking jumps. Holy shit. Ray runs up to him, and the barely alive Ken tells him that Harry’s here to kill him, and offers his gun to defend himself as he dies on the cobblestone. And when he stands up, he’s staring face-to-face with Harry, who fires and misses.
They go through the streets and alcoves (previously described by Yuri), and a chase ensues between the two. Ray momentarily escapes, and makes it to the hotel, where he’s able to retrieve the gun he stole from Eirik. Once he gets there, he tells Marie to leave, and gets the gun. However, even as Harry is waving a gun in her face, Marie refuses to leave. To protect Marie and her unborn child, the two agree to continue their chase in the canal outside,
Harry goes outside to find Ray having jumped out of the window and into the canal, as promised. Despite the distance of the shot, Harry makes it and shoots Ray in the abdomen. Ray stumbles away, only to find himself on the filmset that Chloe works on. Harry finds him there, armed. And unfortunately for Ray, he’s dropped his gun in the canal. Now defenseless, he’s shot by Harry. But Harry’s also miscalculated, just like Ray, and he’s shot what appears to be a child.
But here’s the thing: the person who was shot was Jimmy, dressed as a schoolboy. Ray tries to tell Harry this, but Harry doesn’t hear him, and does something he’d promised to do if he had ever shot a child: he kills himself. And after all of that...Ray is loaded into an ambulance...and the film ends as Ray reflects on what Hell really is. And his answer. Hell is an eternity stuck in Bruges.
...Damn. That’s In Bruges, and it’s tough to even call that a comedy! It is, it definitely is, but it’s also now my hallmark for a dramatic black comedy. Because, uh...wow. WOW. This was a movie. Check out more in the Review!
1 note · View note