Nearly one whole year has gone by since the last Oscar ceremonies. Another year of films, another year of losses (as written so eloquently by our own Spazarella, found here). Another year of hype and over hype for films like The Dark Knight, Indiana Jones, Quantum of Solace and High School Musical 3. Another year where films like Iron Man, and Hancock saw unexpected success. And likewise, films like Seven Pounds and Cloverfield underperformed their expectations. But every year sees several films fly through theaters relatively unnoticed, that's if they were widely released. These films often appear as names on a ballot during awards season and are usually brushed aside, opting for a more publicly acceptable alternative for the gold. I obviously have one such film in mind, and that film is Martin McDonagh's In Bruges.
A pair of hit men take a much needed holiday in Bruges Belgium in order to lay low after a botched job. Ray (Ferrel) and Ken (Gleeson) are forced to room together in a small bed and breakfast where a fair amount of hilarious misunderstandings and arguments ensue. Ken is content with roaming the 'fairy tale' streets as a tourist, happy to put his job behind him, if only until the mysterious 'Harry' calls to stir things up. Ray would rather go back to London or Ireland, or anywhere but Bruges, and proclaims his disinterest frequently. Drugs, hookers, an American midget actor, Canadian hecklers and a Russian gun smuggler all make regular appearances as Ray attempts to make the best out of his forced holiday in Bruges while also being coerced by Ken to soak in the culture. They begin to learn more about each other than either man wished, and both men must make some tough decisions when one of them becomes a target.
Irish actors Colin Ferrel and Brendan Gleeson play Ray and Ken respectively, the two hilariously different hit men that carry on like an 'R' rated Irish Odd Couple. Ray's love interest is played by French actress Clémence Poésy. Ralph Fiennes plays their boss, Harry Waters, and Canadian actor Jordan Prentice as the racist, misanthropic, pill popping dwarf Jimmy.
Why You Should Watch:
Martin McDonagh, an English-born Irish playwright probably best known for his play, 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane', is a master at telling disturbing stories in a strangely inviting way. In Bruges is no exception. Colin Ferrel shines in what I consider to be one of his best performances as a witty Irish hit man with a dark secret that ultimately eats away at him. His swagger and quick talk is understood to be a cover for a damaged man who eventually breaks down in the film's pivotal scene. The film, although graphic at times, is a real pleaser. The story is simple but well told and the characters are fantastic exaggerations that will leave you smiling... or maybe that's just me.
Why You Shouldn't Watch:
Despite my ravings, this film is not for the queasy. The graphic nature of this film becomes a little extreme and unbelievable at one point, but hey, it's a movie. The language in this film is brilliant! Now to translate for those who don't know me... the characters use expletives, a lot, and in masterful ways, creating true works of four letter word art. No one who is easily offended should watch this film. It's racist, anti-obese, anti-midget and even a little anti-American at its best times. Basically, if you're Mormon or a staunch conservative, avoid this film because, well, I wouldn't want to sit next to you and watch it and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
Will It Win:
Well, unfortunately In Bruges was all but overlooked by The Academy despite winning awards for Best New Filmmaker (BSFC), Best Screenplay (BIFA) and Best Actor for Colin Ferrel at the Golden Globes and several other nominations. Where is Colin Ferrel's nomination? I've heard just about enough of how Brad Pitt had the performance of a lifetime in Benjamin Button. For me, he was just underwhelming in the role. I'd seen it before, but Ferrel really shined. He must've done something right, he got the Golden Globe. Ah, but here comes the Golden Globe's curse: Colin Ferrel won in the Comedy or Musical section, thus thwarting his chances at Oscar gold, because we all know that The Academy doesn't consider comedies real films. So, sorry Colin, your just too much of a God Damned comedian. That being said, The Academy has nominated Martin McDonagh for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for his writing of In Bruges. With Milk also in this category, it is unlikely that In Bruges will leave with any awards. I won't count it out yet though, The Academy has been known to throw a dog a bone every now and again. I'll be watching, hoping. And who knows maybe I'll get a balance of culture and fun, but perhaps Ray put it best when he said, "Somehow I believe... that the balance shall tip in the favor of culture, like a big fat fucking retarded fucking black girl on a see-saw opposite... a dwarf."