Recall I remarked about a change in the thrust of film, predicted in my last two reviews (“There will be blood”, “No country for old men”). I think the days of extravaganza and spectacle are numbered, and we are coming around to film In which the actors are allowed to roam free through a “day in the life” rather than a structured plot. You’ll also recall that I noted these films to be rather poorly attended by filmgoers steeped in the tradition of sensory saturation.
“In Bruges”, written by potty-mouthed Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, starring Irish/English actors Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and a host of others you probably won’t recognize is representative of this trend. It is a very, VERY dark comedy. Contract killing a priest in a confessional is about as dark as it gets. In many respects it deserves this designation, and film promoters have not been enthusiastic about wide distribution. Although this film got rave reviews from most if not all the critics, it is only playing at a total of ONE rather small, seedy theater in urban Pittsburgh. All the big mall theaters are playing high profile, formulaic musicals and comedy starring retreads from Saturday Night Live (was never funny, still isn’t)
In Bruges takes some getting used to. Like most gritty, textured films it grows on you slowly. There are no big, expansive blockbuster scenes. The viewer simply absorbs a day in the life of the characters who plum the depths of their reality. The musicality of the language transcends the scarcity of the plot. Colin Farrell has always been an underrated actor and in this film he truly shines (first time using his natural brogue). Ralph Fiennes is a jewel, a masterpiece of the acting trade. The rest of the characters are perfectly cast. The scenery will inspire a desperate need to visit Bruges. The plot, such as it is, explores many of the ethical choices we will never experience but are fascinated to watch others make, and to vicariously feel the emotions of professional killers.
Of particular note is the outstanding performance of Ralph Fiennes, most assuredly one of the top ten greatest actors of our generation. Fiennes musters a look during: “THE BALCONY IS CLOSED (finger jabs to forehead) MISTER….. ENGLISH….. MAN…..”, expressing texture in a minimalist expression much like B.B. King expresses a generation of pain and suffering in one note. You don’t know whether to laugh or gasp at what you intuitively know is coming next.
This film is getting the best reviews of the season. It might take you a while to actually find where it’s playing, but this is the future of film as art and rates taking notice. Beware much graphic violence and verbiage.
I give it five of five eggshell fractured skulls.