Spoiler Warning


Always assume Spoilers and possible profanity in context. These are often adult themed movies.


Monday, October 18, 2010

In Bruges



Most movies about hit men take them very seriously presenting them as almost an amoral  force of nature. But, even a hit man has to start somewhere. "In Bruges" is a movie that shows two hit men not on the job, but recovering from one, in hiding, in Bruges, Belgium. In this dark comedy, they are not inhuman killing machines, but regular guys. who squabble about sightseeing, and wrestle with ethical dilemmas just like anyone else. (but more so)

Ray (Colin Farrell) reflects in voice over,
"After I killed him, I dropped the gun in the Thames, washed the residue off me hands in the bathroom of a Burger King, and walked home to await instructions. Shortly thereafter the instructions came through - "Get the fuck out of London, you dumb fucks. Get to Bruges." I didn't even know where Bruges fucking was. It's in Belgium.

Ray and his partner, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) immediately start arguing over what Bruges will be like. Ken asking Ray to wait until they see it to pass judgement, Ray insisting that he knows it'll be a "shithole." Ken leads the way, clearly having more information than Ray does. When they check in at a local Inn and find rather than two rooms, that they have one twin room and it's reserved for two weeks, Ray gets more upset, finding that length of time unbearable already. Ken is calm, but Ray is very high strung, but nevertheless they start a tour of the city canals by boat. Ken enjoys taking in all the sights, while Ray takes every opportunity to complain. Ken decides to check out a tower with a great overhead view of Bruges, but Ray declines to go.
Ray: What's up there?
Ken: The view.
Ray: The view of what? the view of down here? I can see that from down here.
Ken: Ray, you're about the worst tourist in the whole world.
Ray: Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I'd grown up on a farm and was retarded it might impress me. But, I didn't, so it doesn't.

Ken shakes his head and goes up himself, leaving Ray downstairs to wait. Ray manages to upset an overweight American Family by suggesting the windy stairs to the top of the tower might not be ideal for them. When they press him on what he means by that he says, "You're a bunch of fucking elephants" The American chases Ray around before running out of breath. Ken enjoys the view and runs into the Americans when he comes back down, adding to their offense by good naturedly cautioning them that the climb is really narrow.  He glares at Ray, realizing he must have already upset the family.

Ken and Ray visit a pub and discuss their situation. Ray suggests that they call their employer, Harry,  tomorrow and say "thanks for the trip, but we're going back to London to hide." Ken suggests that they stick to the instructions and quietly sight see until Harry calls. He suggests to Ray, that they may not be simply hiding out  but could be there to do a job, pointing out that sending them to Bruges to hide out is over elaborate when there are many closer places they could do that. Ray agrees and points out that they don't have guns. Ken tells him "Harry can get guns anywhere."

They return back to the room to wait for a call, where Ken calmly reads and Ray gets impatient again. He suggests they go to a pub, but Ken won't entertain the idea. Ray changes his approach and suggests that they go look at buildings, as they must look better at night, "all lit up and that." They encounter a film crew in the street, causing Ray to exclaim "They're filming midgets!" meaning Jimmy (Jordan Prentice). His attention is immediately drawn to Chloe (Clemence Poesy) who is working on the crew. To introduce himself, he asks "What are you filming midgets for?" She tells him a bit about the movie and he talks more about "midgets"
Ray: A lot of midgets tend to kill themselves. A disproportionate amount, actually. Hervé Villechaize off of Fantasy Island. I think somebody from the Time Bandits did. I suppose they must get really sad about like... being really little and that... people looking at them, laughing at them, calling them names. You know, "short arse". There's another famous midget. I miss him but I can't remember. It's not the R2D2 man; no, he's still going. I hope your midget doesn't kill himself. Your dream sequence will be fucked.
Chloë: He doesn't like being called a midget. He prefers dwarf.
Ray: This is exactly my point! People going around calling you a midget when you want to be called a dwarf. Of course you're going to blow your head off.
She laughs at his observations, and he gets her to agree to dinner tomorrow night.

At the hotel, the Inn keeper informs him that he has a message. He reads it;
"Number One, why aren't you in when I fucking told you to be in? Number Two, why doesn't this hotel have phones with fucking voicemail and not have to leave messages with the fucking receptionist? Number Three, you better fucking be in tomorrow night when I fucking call again or there'll be fucking hell to pay. I'm fucking telling you - Harry."

There's also a note from the Innkeeper, explaining that she's not a receptionist but the owner of the Inn along with her husband. Ray returns to the room and brags about his date tomorrow, although Ken pleads with him to turn off the light and let him sleep.

The next morning, Ken tells Ray they missed the call, sharing the note with Ray, who says "Jeez he swears a lot doesn't he?" Ken explains that they're staying in tonight, but Ray suggests that only one of them needs to stay in, reminding Ken of his date. Ken agrees but cautions him not to get in any trouble, and adds that in return they'll do what he wants all day.


Ken leads them to an old church, where Ray fidgets and complains. Ken points out an artifact in an attempt to interest Ray:
Ken: Up there, the top altar, is a vial brought back by a Flemish knight from the Crusades in the Holy Land. And that vial, do you know what it's said to contain?
Ray: No, what's it said to contain?
Ken: It's said to contain some drops of Jesus Christ's blood. Yeah, that's how this church got its name. Basilica of the Holy Blood.
Ray: Yeah. Yeah.
Ken: And this blood, right, though it's dried blood, at different times over many years, they say it turned back into liquid. Turned back into liquid from dried blood. At various times of great stress.
Ray: Yeah?
Ken: Yeah. So, yeah, I'm gonna go up in the queue and touch it, which is what you do.
Ray: Yeah?
Ken: Yeah. You coming?
Ray: Do I have to?
Ken: Do you have to? Of course you don't have to. It's Jesus' fucking blood, isn't it? Of course you don't fucking have to! Of course you don't fucking have to!

Ray takes off and waits outside while Ken waits to touch the vial. Sitting on a bench outside he sees Jimmy walk past and waves. Jimmy looks but doesn't wave back, angering Ray.  The man sitting on the other side of the bench has a dog which gives Ray a long look, prompting Ray to recall a memory of another church. In the memory Ray is in a confession booth, talking with a priest, who asks what he's done:
Ray: Murder, father.
Priest: Why did you murder someone, Raymond?
Ray: For money, father.
Priest: For money? You murdered someone for money?
Ray: Yes, father. Not out of anger. Not out of nothing. For money.
Priest: Who did you murder for money, Raymond?
Ray: You, father.
Priest: I'm sorry?
Ray: I said you, father. What are you, deaf?
Ray: Harry Waters says hello.

He shoots the priest many times as he attempts to leave the booth, but realizes when the priest falls that one of his shots has killed a little boy who was kneeling at the altar. Ray picks up the note the boy held in his hands to detail his "sins"  The note reads:
1. Being moody
2. Being bad at maths
3. Being Sad
Ray is shaking unable to deal with what he's done.

Back in present day, Ken and Ray are in a gallery looking at paintings. Ray finds one that he likes, "Judgment Day" by Bosch. He asks Ken about it.
Ken: It's Judgment Day, you know?
Ray: No. What's that then?
Ken: Well, it's, you know, the final day on Earth, when mankind will be judged for the crimes they've committed and that.
Ray: Oh. And see who gets into heaven and who gets into hell and all that.
Ken: Yeah. And what's the other place?
Ray: Purgatory.
Ken: Purgatory... what's that?
Ray: Purgatory's kind of like the in-betweeny one. You weren't really shit, but you weren't all that great either. Like Tottenham.
Ray: Do you believe in all that stuff, Ken?
Ken: About Tottenham?
Ray: The Last Judgment, the afterlife...guilt and sins and hell and...all that.

They find a bench and discuss belief. Ken points out the difficulty of believing in the afterlife while realizing that he has killed people. Ken says that most of them deserved it except for one guy who came at him with a bottle defending his brother. Ray points out that a bottle could've killed him, but Ken doesn't seem comforted. They devolve into a discussion about karate. Ray breaks down and starts talking to Ken about what's bothering him.
Ray: I killed a little boy! ...
Ken: You didn't mean to kill a little boy.
Ray: I know I didn't mean to. But, because of the choices I made and the course that I put into action, a little boy isn't here anymore and he'll never be here again. I mean here in the world, not here in Belgium. Well, he'll never be here in Belgium either, will he? I mean, he might have wanted to come here when he got older. I don't know why. And that's all because of me. He's dead because of me. And I'm trying to get my head around it, but I can't. I will always have killed that little boy. That ain't ever going away. Ever. Unless...maybe I go away.
Ken: Don't even think like that.

Later, Ken reads, while Ray gets ready for his date.  Trying to cheer him up Ken say "You look good." Ray responds "What's it matter anyway?"  Ray and Chloe discuss occupations at the restaurant.
Chloe: So what do you do?
Ray: I shoot people for money
Chloe: What kinds of people?
Ray: Priests, children. You know, the usual.
Chloe: Is there a lot of money to be made in that line of business.
Ray: There is in priests. There isn't in children. What is it you do Chloe?
Chloe: I sell cocaine and heroin to Belgian film crews.
Ray: Do you?
Chloe: Do I look like I do?
Ray: You do, actually. Do I look like I shoot people?
Chloe: No. Just children.

Ray tells Chloe about Jimmy ignoring him when he waved earlier. She explains that he's on a lot of horse tranquilizer. She tells him she's excited about the movie. Chloe appears insulted when he insults Bruges and Belgium, but then reveals that she wasn't really offended, just toying with him. While Chloe visits the restroom, another diner gets upset about him smoking, although they're in the smoking section. Knocking out the man, and then his girlfriend when she attacks him with a bottle. He tells Chloe they have to leave and he's afraid she thinks he hits women, pointing out that she had a bottle.

Ken gets a call from Harry and pretends that Ray is in the bathroom. Harry tells him to send Ray out for a half hour without looking suspicious. Ken pretends to do so. Harry has him double check. He mentions that he loved Bruges when he visited, describing it a "like a fairytale." Harry seems offended when Ken says that it might not be Rays's cup of tea. Harry can't understand how Bruges could not be anyone's "cup of tea." getting irate. Ken changes his approach saying that Ray has come to really like it, just having an initial hesitation. He makes up an unbelievable quote from Ray telling Harry he said "Ken, I know I'm awake, but I feel like I'm in a dream."
"Like in a good dream?" Harry asks. "Yeah, of course, like in a good dream"
Harry then says. "Good. I'm glad he likes it. I'm glad we were able to give him something. Something good and happy. Because he wasn't a bad kid, was he?"
It dawns on Ken, what Harry is saying. Harry gives him an address to pick up a gun and asks him to give him a call "when it's done."
Ken: When what's done?
Harry: Are you being thick?
Ken: No.
Harry: Listen. I like Ray. he was a good bloke, but when it all come down to it, you know, he blew the head off a little fucking kid. And you brought him in, Ken. So, if the buck doesn't stop with him, where does it stop?
Ken agrees but obviously is troubled by the assignment.

Ray is back at Chloe's place, in bed. He's surprised when a man comes in and holds a gun to his head. He takes the gun from the man, which causes him to pull out a knife. Chloe warns him that the gun has blanks in it. making Ray suspicious of her. Ray fires a blank in the man's face, incapacitating him. Chloe, when questioned, reveals that the guy used to show up to rob tourists she lured there, but she had told him not to come tonight. She takes her injured partner to the hospital, but insists before leaving that Ray call her. He finds some of Chloe's hidden drugs.

Ken goes out and starts drinking beer, He runs into Jimmy at the bar and compliments him on the girl his with. Jimmy tells him that she's a prostitute. Ray comes in and explains that he's done a gram of coke and has four more that he stole. He finds Jimmy making out with his prostitute and interrupts him demanding an explanation for not waving. He offers them his drugs and they all go to a room to do them. Ray, shares his observation on "midgets killing themselves" with Jimmy and asks if he's ever thought about it. Jimmy of course gets offended. Ray asks if Harry has called, but Ken tells him no. Jimmy, totally stoned, shares a theory on the war coming between the whites and blacks, explaining that you don't get to choose the side you're on. Ken tells Jimmy that his wife was black, killed by a white man, also revealing that Harry Waters killed the man who did it, which leaves Jimmy unable to tell him which side he would fight on. "Two manky hookers and a racist dwarf. I think I'm heading home."  Ray goes with him, giving Jimmy a karate chop when he tries to grab the remaining cocaine.

Ray wakes in the morning to find Ken out. Ken is meeting the man with the guns, Yuri. (Eric Godon) He gives Ken a gun with a silencer. Yuri tells Ken that there are lots of "alcoves" unsure whether that's the right English word. Ken tells him that alcoves is the word, and when questioned by Yuri as to whether he's going to do it, he responds that "it's what he does." Ken returns to the hotel and the inn keeper tells him that Ray was acting oddly. Ray had asked her about the baby (she's pregnant) and then gave her 200 euros to give to the baby and said he was going to the park.

Ken finds Ray in the park and watches from a distance, getting his gun ready to kill him. He approaches from behind, but before he reaches him he sees that Ray has a gun of his own which he puts up to his head. Rather than shoot him he tells Ray not to do it. Ray realizes that Harry was going to kill him. They go discuss the situation and Ken tells him he wasn't going to go through with it. He takes the gun from Ray and tells him he's not giving it back. He tells Ray, he's going to give him some money and put him on a train, prompting Ray to start sobbing.
Ray: I killed a little boy!

Ken: Then save the next little boy. Just go away somewhere, get out of this business, and try to do something good. You're not going to help anybody dead. You're not going to bring that boy back. But you might save the next one.
Ray: What am I going to be, a doctor? You need exams.


Ken reveals that Bruges was Harry's plan to give him one last nice memory. Ken sees him to the train, where he reveals that the hit he did was his first job. Ken calls Harry and tells him that Ray is on a train and if he has a problem with it to come to Bruges and do his worst. We see Harry (Ralph Fiennes) beating up the phone. His wife interrupts him, saying "It's an inanimate fucking object!"
Harry: You're an inanimate fucking object!
He tells his wife and kids that he's leaving to attend to "a matter of honor" and apologizes for calling her an inanimate object.
Ken is at the hotel getting dressed up.Ray is on the train when an attendant approaches him telling him he "heet the Canadian" He discovers that the couple he beat up in the restaurant is on the train. He tells Ray they're returning him to Bruges. Harry is already in Bruges, meeting with Yuri. The skinhead, Eirik, that Ray blinded with the blank is also there with a patch over his eye. Yuri offers Harry "dim dims"
Yuri: I also have some dim-dims. You use this word, dim-dims? The bullets that make the head explode?

Harry: Dum-dums. Yeah.
Yuri: Would you like some of these dim-dims?
Harry: I know I shouldn't... but I will.

Eirik,  explains his predicament to Harry, describing what happened in hopes of sympathy. Harry responds however by saying "To be honest it sounds like it was all your fault."
Eirik: What?
Harry: I mean basically, if you're robbing a man and you're only carrying blanks, and you allow your gun to be taken off you, and you allow yourself to be shot in the eye with a blank, for which I assume the person has to get quite close to you, then, yeah really it's all your fault for being such a poof. So why don't you stop whingeing and cheer the fuck up?
Eirik gets up as if to defend himself. Yuri cautions him not to respond. Eirik looks confused and says, "I thought you wanted the guy dead?"
Harry:  I do want the guy dead. I want him fucking crucified. But, it don't change the fact that he stitched you up like a blind, little gay boy. Does it?

Harry thanks Yuri for the gun and sets off to meet with Ken, who he finds sitting at a cafe waiting for him. Harry sits down at the table and glares at Ken. Ken explains that Ray is suicidal. Harry isn't moved and remarks:
When I phoned you yesterday, did I ask you,  "Ken, will you do me a favor and become Ray's psychiatrist please?"  No. What I think I asked you was "Could you go blow his fucking head off for me?" Ken explains that he prevented Ray from killing himself. Harry can hardly believe this, seeing that as solving everyone's problem. Ken insists that it wouldn't have solved Ray's problem. Harry says
"Ken, if I had killed a little kid, accidentally or otherwise, I wouldn't have thought twice. I'd have killed myself on the fucking spot. On the fucking spot."
Ken tells tells Harry that unlike them, Ray still has the capacity to do something decent with his life. Harry demands to know where Ray is, but Ken of course has no idea.

Chloe has lent Ray money for bail, which she tells him not to worry about. Ken suggests that Harry do what he has to do and recommends they go up to the bell tower to get away from the crowd. Chloe and Ray kiss as she tries to convince him to stay with her. Ken and Harry pass right by them as they kiss, headed to the bell tower. The bell tower turns out to be closed, due to the fact that an American had a heart attack yesterday. The attendant doesn't respond rudely poking Harry in the forehead when he tries to pay him generously to open it. Ken beats the man and they go up anyway. Outside Eirik sees Chloe and Ray at a table. Jimmy stops by as well, dressed as a schoolboy for the movie, and Ray apologizes for karate chopping him. Jimmy remarks that it would be easier to forgive him, if he and Chloe weren't laughing right in his face. He defends his clothes as being for the movie, and they nod trying to stop laughing.

On the walk up the tower stairs, Ken tells Harry he's glad he got to see Bruges before he died. He puts his gun down refusing to fight. Harry puts his gun to Ken's head, and tells him to pick up the gun. Ken refuses saying "I'm totally in your debt." He tells Harry he loves him for his integrity and his honor, but he had to let Ray go, and for that he accepts whatever Harry has to do. Harry responds,
"Well, you say all that fucking stuff, I can't fucking shoot you now, can I?" Ken tells him it's his call but he's not fighting. Harry settles for shooting Ken in the leg.

Ken, Chloe and Jimmy are talking and Jimmy invites them to the set, despite Ray needling him about the war between the whites and blacks. Eirik approaches Chloe and Ray, but rather than say anything he runs off to find Harry. Harry is helping Ken down the stairs, when Eirik reaches him telling Harry that Ray is downstairs. Ken now attempts to fight with Harry to keep him from going after Ray. In the struggle he ends up getting shot in the neck. He tells Ken he's sorry, but "you can't kill a kid and expect to get away with it." Ken grabs a gun and heads back for the top of the tower as Harry goes the other way after Ray. Ken throws himself from the top to warn Ray and to give him his gun. Since Ray's busy looking at Chloe, Ken throws coins to the ground to make sure the crowd below is looking and jumps. He manages to tell Ray that Harry's there and to take his gun before he dies. Ray is distraught of course, but Harry soon arrives to chase him through the streets.

Ray loses him for a bit and gets back to the hotel, demanding the key to their room and telling the Inn keeper to go home immediately. Ray finds his own gun and Ken's Last will and testament. From the top of the stairs, Ray sees that Harry is arguing with the Inn keeper who refuses to let Harry upstairs. Ray tells Harry to promise not to start shooting until the Innkeeper is gone. Harry promises, although the Innkeeper refuses to leave. Harry says "I suppose you've got a gun up there."
Ray: Yep.
Harry: Then what are we gonna do? We can't stand here all night.
Marie: Why don't you both put your guns down and go home?
Harry: Don't be stupid. This is the shootout...
Ray: Harry, I've got an idea.
Harry: What?
Ray: My room faces onto the canal right? I'm gonna go back to me room, jump into the canal, see if I can swim to the other side and escape.
Harry: Right.
Ray: If you go outside around the corner, you can shoot at me from there and try to get me. That way we leave this lady and her baby out of the whole entire thing.
Harry: Do you completely promise to jump into the canal? I don't want to run out there, come back in ten minutes and find you fucking hiding in a cupboard.
Ray: I  completely promise Harry. I'm not gonna risk having another little kid die am I?
Harry: So hang on, I go outside and then I go which way, right or left?
Ray: You go right, don't you? You can see it from the doorway! It's a big fucking canal!
Harry: Alright, Jesus! I've only just got here haven't I?


They agree on a count of one, two, three go, and that Ray will say it. Ray lands on a boat and Harry takes aim and shoots him, although Ray thinks he's too far away. Ray, now wounded gets off the boat a ways down the canal and runs through the streets with Harry chasing.  Ray ends up where the filming is happening and Jimmy sees him approaching, alarmed. Harry gets up behind him and Ray sobs, "The little boy..." Harry says, "That's right. The little boy" before shooting Ray again three times. Ray tries to crawl away, and Harry realizes that he shot Jimmy in the head. Since he used the dum dums, he can't see Jimmy's head, only the small body in the schoolboy uniform. Harry says. "Oh. I see." Ray tries to tell Harry that Jimmy is not a kid, but Harry says 'You've got to stick to your principles." and shoots himself in the head, "on the spot."

Ray is put on a stretcher as the people on the street including Chloe watch, he thinks:
"There's a Christmas tree somewhere in London with a bunch of presents underneath it that'll never be opened. And I thought, if I survive all of this, I'd go to that house, apologize to the mother there, and accept whatever punishment she chose for me. Prison... death... didn't matter. Because at least in prison and at least in death, you know, I wouldn't be in fuckin' Bruges. But then, like a flash, it came to me. And I realized, fuck man, maybe that's what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in fuckin' Bruges. And I really really hoped I wouldn't die. I really really hoped I wouldn't die. "


"In Bruges" is a dark comedy, and as such, it deals with some dark questions, finding humor in the absurdity of the situation and the conversations resulting. Despite their hit men in hiding status, it's made clear that Ken and Ray are really very close. The difference in the two men's outlooks is interesting to examine. Ken, the experienced hit man, is eager to enjoy Bruges, while Ray, does nothing but find reasons to complain about it. Ken tries to use his paternal influence to help Ray, although he himself is full of unsolved questions. He feels responsible for Ray's problem as he brought Ray into the job. He can't however, say anything to justify Ray's problem, as killing a kid, even accidentally is not something that will go away.

Ken agrees to kill Ray but can't stand by and just let him kill himself. As he mentions to Harry later on, he still believes that Ray could be something better than they are, while he and Harry have already decided on their limits, other than the possibility of getting worse. Ken sees a chance to correct the course which he helped steer Ray towards and perhaps atone for his own life. The fact is inescapable, that he has to defy Harry to do so, which is very sgnificant, as we know that Harry had killed his wife's murderer and possibly done many other things for Ken in the past.  He attempts to honor both loyalties, by telling Harry he'll take whatever punishment he sees fit.

Harry is an interesting figure in that he is utterly devoted to his principles, in contrast to the two hit men who are trying to puzzle things out, Harry doesn't ask questions, just follows his code all the way to the end. While Ken points out that Ray can't help the dead kid, but he could help the next one someday, Harry has no allowance for that, seeing the kid's death as something you "just can't" get away with, which Harry feels ust as strongly about, willing to kill Ken over it, (and himself) although he certinly doesn't want to.

The remarkable thing about this movie is how tightly woven it is. There are no "throwaway" scenes. The couple that Ray assaults in the restaurant, are not ust there for a moment of comic relief, they appear late on to get him kicked off the train, as if to remind us that everything has consequences. Ray blinds the skinhead, Eirik, with a blank, and it's Eirik who sees Ray is back in Bruges and tells Harry. Harry's remark that he's "shoot himself on the spot" if he killed a kid  is exploited. The fact that they're shooting a film and that Jimmy is a dwarf are both pivotal to the plot later. Ray romancing Chloe means that he makes bail later on. The view from the clock tower matters, as does warning the overweight family who insist on going up anyway. The fact that he really like her keeps him in the street so Harry can find him. Everything that happens, matters.

When i say that it's mostly dialogue, that's no insult, as it's great dialogue. Brendan Gleeson's Ken and Colin Farrell's Ray both deliver terrifically, showing not only their characters but the rapport they have with each other. The fact that Ray can discuss the fact that it appeared Ken was going to shoot him in the head, conveys their closeness in the strongest way possible. In this dark comedy, they both see the world as their own dark comedy. Ken comes across as gentle and proper, making it difficult to believe he's a hit man, if not for the fact that he could approach his best friend intending to kill him. Ray on the other hand is crass and hotheaded, reluctant to enjoy anything or sit still for a moment. We see quite clearly that despite his attempts at reckless bravado, he can't escape his guilt for long. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant here, although he comes in late in the picture (other than his voice) he takes charge of the scene, the first chance he gets. Building up the anticipation to his visit by the phone conversations, is a great effect and gives us the feeling that we've been waiting for his arrival. When he shows up, he doesn't disappoint. His straight delivery of harsh absurdities is like a fresh breath for the film, kicking it into motion the accelerated last act.

It's interesting that none of them, Harry, Ray or Ken, cares at all about the idea of killing people in general, only killing kids. Killing a priest isn't even mentioned, nor is any other murder except for Ken's one murder he regrets, which can be seen as self defense. Another interesting example of the tight plotting is Ray's justifying Ken's murder, because "you can kill somebody with a bottle" yet when the woman in the restaurant comes at him with a bottle, he seems barely threatened and almost effortlessly knocks her out. .Despite their profession, Ray and Ken don't seem like bad guys. Which allows the story to show us that everything has consequences, a fact reinforced by the tight plotting. Everything matters.

All three main characters must face the direct consequences of their actions. Ray killed a child. Accidentally or not he has to pay for it. Of this fact he is probably as certain as Harry is that he needs to be punished. It was an interesting touch to have Ray pick up the note from the boy's hand, it's simplicity and innocence, showing us that it's not possible for Ray to ever get over. We don't know if he would've killed himself if Ken hadn't stopped him, but we can believe it, and if not then maybe later. This is something that tortures him constantly and nothing will ever make up for it. Ken's actions were, bringing Ray into the business, and he himself feels indirectly responsible for what happened. When he tries to give Ray a second chance, he is also trying to reduce his own guilt. While he doesn't carry around the murder of the child, he sees Ray dying senselessly as a similar tragedy, which is a result of his actions. He also has to bear the consequences of defying Ray, who to hear Ken tell it, has been extraordinarily good to him. Harry himself although partly being the enforcer of the consequences, is not immune to them himself. He views life a little differently than the other two though, not concerned with anything but his own codes, so much so that when Ray tries to explain that Jimmy isn't a kid, he doesn't even listen, eager to prove that he lives by his principles. It's also interesting that while Ray is the "suicide case" he's the only one of the three that doesn't kill himself.

McDonagh couldn't have done a better job, particularly with a first film. Setting everything in Bruges was an interesting idea, the medieval setting playing a large part in the character's interactions as well as giving us the feeling that this particular play is happening on a smaller stage. The dialogue is sharp and never bores relying on the actors to keep us engaged, which they fulfill completely. Be forewarned that there is more profanity (language) in this movie than ten movies you pick at random, but it suits the story's dark humor perfectly and fits as an element of the characters' conversation not a contrived addition to it. It's also very funny, if you appreciate the dark humor.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, not even if you're secluded in Bruges. There are always consequences. They are largely within the men themselves. Although they aren't always aware of their choices, they still make them. If Ray hadn't beat up the couple in the restaurant he may have escaped from Bruges. If Ken had let Ray kill himself, he may have been off working on his next assignment. If Harry had been able to bend his principles slightly, trusting Ken's decision, he may have been able to get back to business. But they all made choices, and they all mattered. right up to their last ones, which revealed that if nothing else they were true to their convictions. Ken trying to help Ray, Harry in keeping his word and code, and Ray trying to tell Harry not to kill himself although it would certainly mean he himself would die, finally acknowledging some regard for life in general, other than just that of a kid, by placing more importance on the life of them man trying to kill him than his own. The implication of consequences is perhaps more effective by not being a lesson spelled out, but a consistent thread tying the whole film together.

4 comments:

Widow_Lady302 said...

I love dark comedies like this, but more than that I love movies that show us the consequences of our actions unfold. Every action we take does have a reaction, the little things and the big. I look for them in real life, so when they play out on the screen and you connect the dots it just thrills me. Everything we do (or don't do) changes our future for good or ill.

I will see this movie! Great review, Brent!

Brent said...

Thanks Lisa! That's certainly true, granted our actions may not be as directly obvious asthosein thisfilm,but it'sagood illustration of it. I appreciate the level of craft involved to make everything meaningful and tie it all up. It's also very funny!

Matthew K. said...

Your article really makes me want to see this one. Sounds like an interesting premise- and what a great cast. I just put it on my Netflix list. Will have to reread your piece after I see it.

Brent said...

Thanks Matthew! Ihope I made I did it justice! It truly is a terrific cast, but the script is amazingly smart!