Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Movie Review: In Bruges

Pirate and I went to see 'In Bruges' yesterday out at Cribbs. It was surprisingly good. From the trailer it looked like one of those films that could go either way, and be really good or really, really awful, but would never be anywhere in the middle. It was bound to be an all-or-nothing film, and I'm delighted to report the former.

It was well cast, well scripted, well acted, and well filmed. It weird, no doubt about that, but then, anything with Ralph Fiennes in it is always weird. And funny, you can count on that, too.

Basically it's the story of a couple Irish hitmen sent to Bruges by their crime boss for Reasons Unknown, and if I tell you more than that I'll spoil all the fun. It's kind of "Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels" meets some weird French art film meets, hell, I don't know what. Go see it and you tell me.

What struck me most about the film was the impressive balance it struck: it was funny, but it was not a comedy. It was emotive, but it was not a drama. It was intense, but it was not a thriller. I really don't know how to classify it. It drew on a dozen genres and avoids slapped with an over-simplifying label. To say that I laughed and I cried is a cliche', but damnit I did those things. And how can it be a cliche' if it happens so rarely?

The other thing that impressed me was the gentle handling of the characters. They weren't caricatures, they were almost tangibly real (except Ralph Fiennes, but no one wants him to be real anyway; he's better as a walking comic book). I don't want to make this sound like some sloppy, sentimental movie. It wasn't. But it had it's sentimental moments. They were touching without being saccharin.

And the humor, god the humor. Least P.C. film I've ever seen. Here's a great line: "God, I'm at a party with a couple skanky hos and a racist midget. I'm going to bed." At times the humor was very dark indeed, and at times rather off-color. You could almost describe it as "black and blue." (Sorry, couldn't help myself there.)

And the got the details right. Do you know how many films are spoiled by idiots getting the details wrong? I saw "21" recently, and came away pissed off because a dude in Boston, Massachusetts leaves his bike outside without locking it and it's still there when he comes back out, and the university leaves an official letter to him taped to his dorm room door. THAT SHIT DOESN'T HAPPEN, and it just distracts and detracts from the film. "In Bruges" gets the details right, from shirt collars to criminals needing to read maps mid-chase in a foreign city.

And they cast it right. They didn't cast beautiful people who Look Like Actors. They cast people who look like people and are good actors. I wish Hollywood would wake up to massive improvement this would make in their fucking films.

Overall, I recommend it highly. It pulled me through a variety of powerful emotions, from cracking up, to awkward nervous laughter, to terror, revulsion, suspense, more nervous laughter, relief, and hope. It was fun and it made me think. It got the details right, and I strongly suspect it's one of those films that you can watch a dozen times and spot something each time that you hadn't noticed before. "The Graduate" does that. "Cabaret" does that. This one might, too. I'll have to watch it again and let you know, but I've got a good feeling about it. I'm giving it 4 1/2 glasses of Leffe.


Billy said...

Pints of Leffe?


Only tourists drink PINTS of Leffe!

Chaucer's Bitch said...

okay okay already. i'll change it to "glasses."

Happy now?

FirstNations said...

The movie I'll see; but the beverage sounds like something brewed out of fermented mare's drool or something.

Chaucer's Bitch said...

oh no no no, FN! Leffe is a really, really fabulous whit bier. Obv it's better on draught, but you may be able to find it in bottles if you've got a good liquer store somewhere. If you come across it, do try it!

Billy said...

I was only joking. :)

Interestingly Belgium is one of the few countries in Western Europe which still permits smoking in public places.

Donn said...

Belgium is my family's historical Fatherland and I shall return someday to acquire the Throne..hrrrumph..and yes I have been in Bruges ('77).

One of my daughter's (a Uni Student who is a p/t Movie Theatre Manager and sees EVERYTHING) said that she adored In Bruges and was completely taken by surprise.
I have been watching movies like a madman for the last week and this will definitely be included.