MOVIE: In Bruges (2008)

You know how yesterday I posted a movie review of The Ruins that was about 12 words long? I was really tempted to do that with this movie as well, because “I loved it! I loved it! I loved it! I loved it!” really seemed to get my opinion across quite succinctly.

But I figured you guys might stage a coup if I started making ALL my movie reviews that short. Although, come to think of it, maybe you’d actually be relieved, considering how insanely verbose I can get at times. I mean, really, how ridiculous would it be if my review of this TERRIFIC FILM were shorter than my review of, say, Phantasm? The fact this will probably end up being the case pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this web site.  Which is, in a nutshell: THAT IT IS AWESOME.

Not that I’m biased or anything. . .

This fantastic, clever, and extremely bizarre movie is one of the most thoroughly entertaining films I’ve seen this year. So, allow me to begin by thanking heartily the reader who recommended it to me: YAY, THANK YOU! In Bruges had been on my to-watch list for a while, but I hadn’t been all that eager to pick it up (primarily because I’m not much of a Colin Farrell fan, hence his status as the UnBoyfriend), until she told me it reminded her of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  That made me cock my head slightly and reconsider its low placement in my Netflix queue.  Got the flick the next weekend, and the rest, as they say, itten zee history.

The film opens with two Irish hitmen, Ray and Ken (Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, respectively) being sent to hide out in Bruges, Belgium after Ray accidentally kills an extra person during his first assigned hit.  I’d punctuate that with a “Whoops!” except that the accidental death of that extra person, whose identity I will not share with you, is utterly devastating both to us, the viewers, and to Ray himself.

Ken, his mentor of sorts, is taking things a bit more in stride and is actually kind of excited to be in Bruges — as it turns out, it’s a lovely old place with a lot of beautiful architecture and interesting things to see. Ray, on the other hand, is far  less happy to have been exiled to Belgium, and, when it comes to tourism, is more prone to exchanges like this one:

Ken: [at base of large tower, motioning to stairs that go to top] Coming up?

Ray: What’s up there?

Ken: The view!

Ray: The view of what? Down here? I can see that DOWN HERE!

As Ken spends his time tourist-ing around, Ray gets mixed up with a girl. And a midget.  And then Ralph Fiennes shows up and, well, I think it’s better for you if I don’t say much more than that.  In all honesty, I think one of the reasons I was so blown away by this movie was because I had absolutely no idea what it was about, which meant I didn’t know what was coming until it was far, far too late to get out of the way.

I’m sure there are things that could be criticized or picked apart in this film.  One of them might be that the ending, plot-wise anyway, is a bit on the predictable side.  But I didn’t really mind that aspect of things, because I was too busy loving the part of the ending that DID surprise me, which was the return of a painting we’d seen earlier in the film, this time brought to life in a way that both made me gasp with pleasure and chuckle at the wild confusion Ray must be experiencing in that wholly bizarre moment.

I also think it’s better for you if I don’t say much more about THAT. But pay attention when Ray and Ken go to the museum and look at a painting together. You’ll see what I mean when you get to the end of the film. Wonderful — I love it when things like that happen in movies.  Feels literary, somehow.

All in all, a charming, engaging, moving, funny, sweet, goofy flick, and one I feel certain will end up on my Favorite Movies Seen in 2008 list this December. By the way, I’m madly in love with Brendan Gleeson — is that weird?

Highly recommended!

The end!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Thriller, Comedy
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Eric Godon

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22 Responses to “MOVIE: In Bruges (2008)”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    Meg – glad that you saw and loved this movie(I should have thought of recommending it to you). I don’t know the last time that I laughed so much in a movie. Those Sandler/Myers/ Will Ferrell movies do nothing for me but I loved the dark humor in this movie. Colin Farrell is not a favorite of mine but he can surprise with a good performance and he definitely gives one here. I agree Brendan Gleeson is great and he and Farrell make a very interesting team.

    I don’t know if it is possible to really explain this movie. You must see it. I went with 2 friends and one loved it and the other did not. If you like your movies straightforward and rather straightlaced then this is probably not a movie for you. But, if you like movies that are a little offbeat and your humor of the dark variety then I encourage you to give it a try. Also, the city of Bruges is like a character in the movie and it is extremely interesting.

    This will definitely be on my best of the year list.

  2. megwood Says:

    Interesting you point out the city of Bruges is almost like a character itself. My husband was pretty bored with this movie for the first 30 or so minutes because, as he put it, “NOTHING IS HAPPENING!” He was a bit like Ray when it came to enjoying the scenery. But I loved the slowish pace of the beginning — it gave what came next almost twice the impact, really. And Bruges — I’d never even HEARD of that town, but it is gorgeous! I’d love to go!

  3. Lorraine Says:

    Honestly, I was so busy laughing that I had no time to be bored! I found myself pulling into the strange location with these bizarre characters and went for the ride. I wasn’t too keen on how the movie changed tone at the end but that was the writer/director’s choice.

  4. Lorraine Says:

    I think a difference may be that I saw this movie in the theater not home on my tv. The city of Bruges really fills up the screen and has a real presence.

  5. megwood Says:

    I’m sure it would’ve been even better on the big screen, but my husband still would’ve found the scenery stuff boring. He likes action! Which is why, by the end of the movie, he was a lot happier! 🙂

  6. Ellen Says:

    Graham & I recently saw this flick & it’s been one of the few Netflix picks we actually liked. I normally HATE Colin Farrell, but he was pretty good in this film. It was a little slow, but I loved the bizarreness of it… especially the dialogue about dwarves having a disproportionate number of suicides… hilarious!

  7. Ellen Says:

    Oh, and you can’t beat swearing with an Irish accent… Fookin’ shite!

  8. megwood Says:

    Seriously — I think all swearing should be done with an Irish accent. It’s so much more effective that way! Not to mention sexy as hell!

  9. Lorraine Says:

    Plus, maybe some of it is funnier but I wasn’t quite sure what was said!

  10. Lorraine Says:

    Oops! Just a correction.
    Plus, maybe some of it is funnier BECAUSE I wasn’t quite sure what was said!

  11. Ellen Says:

    Swearing aside, we did think it was a little unbelievable that Ken would still be alive & not have his skull & body completely smashed in after flinging himself off the tower. Of course, that wouldn’t make for a dramatic, cinematic final scene with a few words uttered to Ray just before dying. Fookin’ shite! Bahahahaha!

  12. Ellen Says:

    And… If you gals liked this film, I HIGHLY recommend “The Commitments”. Very fun, uplifting Irish film about a band.

  13. fullyfledged Says:

    Just one thing – British and Irish are not the same thing. Kind of like being a Kiwi and being an Aussie is not the same thing. These guys are Irish hitmen.

  14. megwood Says:

    Whoops, thanks for pointing that out, fullyfledged. As you can see from the comments, we all knew they were Irish — I have no idea how I ended up with “British” in the review. Not thinkin’! Fixed now!

  15. Linn Says:

    I really agree! “I loved it” would be my review of this movie! It’s awsome. The ending was at first a bit disturbing, but I got over that rahter quickly:P
    It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a movie this much!

  16. Nai Says:

    So, how to put this without spoiling anything…. What do we think happens in the end; where does he go?

  17. megwood Says:

    I dunno — what do YOU think?

  18. Lorraine Says:

    So, how to respond without spoiling anything… I’ll just say that I had the exact opposite impression than the person I saw it with. Maybe it depends on whether you are more of an optimist or a pessimist? Me, I’m bit of a pessimist… but I prefer to think it as being a realist.

  19. Ellen Says:

    All I know is that dwarves DO have a disproportionate number of suicides… Bahahahahahaha!

    There’s a new Irish pub that opened near us & my hubby’s already a regular & “down with his Irish homies” on the bar & waitstaff. I keep making one bartender Declan (does a name get any more irish than that?) say lines from this movie… “It’s a fookin’ doomp!”

  20. Ryan Says:

    I don’t see how this film and The Commitments are related?

    But anyway, does anyone know the names of the paintings that they look at in the museum?

  21. Ryan Says:

    (other than the Bosch painting)

  22. Andy Says:

    I love this movie although it is somewhat bizarre. If you visit Bruges you can see many of the locations used in the film and there’s so much more to see and do too! We loved our trip there so much that we’ve written this free guide with recommendations on what to see…

    Bruges City Guide

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