Feast your eyes, ears, hearts and heads... I’m finding it ridiculously easy to write about food. I’ve discussed previously how music and other trends just happen to me rather than me seeking it out. That doesn’t diminish its importance in my life, my love and need for it, or my hard edged opinions on said things; I just happen to eat multiple times a day, every single day, in a great city and most experiences inspire my mind and my heart to express it. Most films, TV shows, music and other forms of entertainment simply aren’t as inspiring, as frequently. That is why I aim to be selective in my reviews and suggestions to you on certain pieces of work.
With that being said I’d like to highly recommend a little 2008 film called In Bruges (soft G, like ginger, silent S). This film is brilliantly funny, contains an unusual story you’ve never seen filmed before, and takes place in a gothic and quaint European city in Belgium. It also stars the delectable Colin Farrell, a cheeky and talented Irish actor we got used to seeing in multiple films in early 2000’s. A child and a public struggle with sobriety led Colin out of the spotlight for quite a few years and this film was his quiet yet triumphant return. And man am I grateful.
Colin is just one half of a two man hit team in Ireland, his partner played by the endlessly skilled actor Brendan Gleeson. The two operate under the violent guidance and tutelage of their Big Boss, and when a hit goes awry, they’re forced to flee to Bruges, Belgium. Much to the chagrin of Colin’s character, they’re ordered to hide out in Bruges until the dust settles, during which Brendan’s character insists on exploring Bruges’ culture, seeing the sites. Many of the films laughs come from Colin’s wickedly funny and hateful comments involving his pure disdain for Bruges. This especially includes visiting tourists, some of them American, some stereotypically overweight and under-cultured, and the few confrontations with them alone make this film utterly entertaining. Caution: Let’s all get over ourselves. Harsh, I know. If you cannot laugh at yourself, if you cannot love your country and also recognize its shortcomings and therefore laugh at those shortcomings, then don’t watch or listen to any comedy whatsoever. If you find yourself getting offended at the maybe 90 seconds worth of jokes at American’s expense, ask yourself why? Why am I letting my ego get too attached to something that actually has a big foot in reality? I’m continuously learning this lesson and getting over myself, whether it be regarding jokes about women, stereotypes about yoga teachers, or anything. I recognize my hypocrisy and contradictions constantly! And to that I remember Walt Whitman and I say, eh well, I contradict myself! For the sake of comedy and a content life, I’m getting over myself, and so should you.
This film takes place during the Christmas holiday season. It’s this beautiful juxtaposition of a happy, colorful time mixed with bleak gray skies, incessant bickering amongst the stars, hooker drug-dealer dating, fighting midgets (little people, sorry. get over it.), fighting with thugs, and partying with all these people at some point. It’s grouchy and mean-spirited but so dry and clever. You will not be told when to laugh, this is not a CBS comedy with a laugh track helping you along, it’s blunt, flat, thick Irish accented delivery and it’s 90 minutes of heart-breaking genius. Not only is Colin Farrell back and as adorable as ever, he’s speaking in his native accent and dialect. Listen carefully Americans, he is speaking English.
Just when the surprise over your enjoyment can’t get better, Ralph Fiennes enters the picture. He’s the Big Boss, the original cunning asshole, spitting vitriol and venom when he’s not ordering deaths or committing them himself. He puts Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder to big time shame. He has these bazaar, sociopathic principles, that he adheres to feverishly despite leaving a throng of human beings in his wake. He’s like the tone, setting and characters throughout this film: bitterly funny, deeply depressed, and anxiously awaiting whatever is next.
I’m keeping this review fairly vague on purpose. The movie is very convoluted, it’s heavy and light all at once, and the culminating scenes are again approaching such tremendous dynamics, leaving me somber, leaving me laughing. There are so many experiences in life that evoke emotions and even tears, where you find it difficult to put your finger on the Why. Why am I feeling this way? Often the answer is complex and involves opposing emotions, sadness and joy, frustration and emergence, love and hate. In Bruges represents that dichotomy excellently.
Open your eyes, ears, mind and heart. Let yourself laugh and cry. Enjoy.