It’s time for door 15 of The James Proclaims Advent Calendar Of Christmas(ish) FIlms and what better place to start the weekend than In Bruges?
After all “it’s a fairytale town isn’t it?”
Hitmen Ray and Ken (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson respectively) find themselves hiding out there at the behest of mob boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) after a job goes horribly and tragically wrong.
And the two couldn’t be more polarized in their views of the Belgian town.
While Ken is content to sightsee and soak in the history and culture, Ray is perplexed by the notion of “going round in a boat looking at things” and thinks that “history is all just a load of stuff that’s already happened,” and therefore not worth his time. Indeed Ray would rather be anywhere but In Bruges.
The film is darkly comic in tone and the characters, while all fundamentally flawed (and racist and homophobic and generally offensive in all kinds of ways) are amazingly still sympathetic. Farrell and Gleeson work well together on screen, and though partners in crime on paper, Ken is very much the patient paternal figure, with Ray fulfilling the role of petulant teenage son.
The dynamic between the two central characters during the first quarter of the film, is for me, the most entertaining aspect of the whole movie, albeit, it’s probably when the least ‘stuff’ happens. As more characters are introduced and the narrative develops, the film remains engaging, but never quite lives up to its earliest scenes.
At its most basic interpretation, In Bruges is an absorbing comic crime caper but on a more profound level, it raises plenty of questions about morality and mortality. I’m not sure it particularly answers any of those questions but, equally, I’m not sure that’s the point.
What can’t be denied is that Bruges itself looks like a lovely place to visit.
Although I’m not sure Ray is ever fully convinced of that fact.
Score for Christmasishness
It’s definitely set at Christmas time and Bruges is certainly a fitting backdrop for a Christmas-themed movie.
That said, there’s nothing particularly Christmas(ish) about the plot in reality, but the Christmas setting does add a level of poignancy to the whole story which, or reflection, seems wholly appropriate.
So it’s reasonably Christmas(ish).