Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In Bruges

Martin McDonagh’s screenplay for this movie was nominated for an Oscar, demonstrating that the Academy gets some things right from time to time. He also directed it. It’s his first feature and it’s good, very dark and very funny.

The actors playing the three principal characters, who are all professional killers, are excellent. Colin Farrell plays Ray, who’s a bit dim, but has enough going on upstairs to be racked by guilt for killing an innocent bystander in an assassination gone wrong. Brendan Gleeson plays his partner/handler Ken, who’s worn down and sad but is trying to enjoy the Medieval wonders of the Belgium town of Bruges, where the two are hiding out. Ralph Fiennes plays their boss, Harry. Speaking of things Medieval, Harry is the exemplar of the Choleric humor. He’s full of wrath.

The other characters are equally well written and well played by actors unknown to me. They include a local drug dealer (Clémence Poésy), her client (Jordan Prentice), who’s a dwarf actor with a particular interest in Ketamine and also all other known recreational drugs. There’s also the pregnant owner (Thekla Reutan) of the hotel where Ray and Ken are staying. The latter radiates a degree of probity and goodness not seen since Chief Marge Gunderson squeezed her pregnant body into a police cruiser in “Fargo”.

There’s actually a tiny bit of probity in each of the three killers as well, which causes them to act against their own pure self-interest. This quality makes us care about them (or at least about Ray and Ken) at the same time that we are laughing at this company of clowns. This is a clever, enjoyable movie.

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