Altered Opinions: In Bruges.

This past summer, I bought and watched In Bruges on a whim after hearing so many good things and even thinking it looked good from the previews. What I saw, like many others, gave me mixed emotions. I went in expecting a straight-up comedy, and what I got was a very dark drama with some comedy thrown in, all of which discussing the meaning of life, the afterlife, and other moralistic themes. And then, of course, the ending… the whole movie caught me off guard. But I thought it was worth a second chance, so I waited for a second viewing before giving it a review it deserved. But unfortunately, I never got around to a second viewing until now.

Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) have just left a hit-gone-bad and are hiding out in Bruges until they get word from their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). While they’re there, Ray flirts with Chloe (Clemence Poesy) and hangs out with a midget/dwarf actor named Jimmy (Jordan Prentice). But between Ray’s newfound depression and dislike for the fairy tale city of Bruges and Ken’s newest assignment, things aren’t going exactly as either of them ever thought they would.

This second time through, going in with the right frame of mind, I was able to appreciate the movie much more than before. From the beautiful cinematography that captures the splendor of Bruges to the haunting musical score always dancing in the background, every aspect of the film works together masterfully. And you know from the opening moments of the movie with its deep, resonating, melancholy theme that you aren’t in for a lighthearted romp.

The acting is high caliber all around, from the usually ‘hit-or-miss’ Colin Farrell to the Harry Potter alums, Brendan Gleeson, Clemence Poesy, and Ralph Fiennes. Farrell works the emotions of the film: he has all the jokes, making you laugh when he’s saying something politically incorrect or ranting on or when he’s making you cry with him on all his troubles. Brendan Gleeson is the big brother: wiser and watchful, and always trying to make sure Ray is getting the best out of his life. Clemence Poesy has probably the shallowest of the characters (in depth, that is), but that doesn’t stop her from making you like her even when she’s doing something not-so-likeable. But then Ralph Fiennes shows us his range once again by giving us the foul-mouthed, slightly dim but very dangerous Harry Waters (irony in the name there considering what most people these days will know him for).

But amidst all the drama and heaviness, there is a fair bit of comedy, though it is rather dark and usually insulting. But that didn’t stop me from laughing. But I just think it was a sign of great writing when the movie can go from joking about a karate-knowing lollipop man to a sad, touching moment in the span of seconds. And the way it can just keep bringing jokes back (“A bottle?! AH!” or any of the karate jokes), but never overusing it and knowing when to stop (unlike some movies) is good.

In the end, even the second time through, I was bouncing back and forth over how to score this movie. But I like when movies play with themes and have good character development, and this movie was really good on both, especially in the very last moments/words of the film. And even if the film leaves it open, it’s still in the closing words that it really got me. So with that, I’ll finally leave you with a rating.

Royale With Cheese

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