Name this interesting, well-made, amazingly scenic, but thematically rough, and very adult movie.
The winner gets another Monica Vitti photo.
No, not really.
You don’t win anything. I just thought I’d post a couple of images of one of the more interesting movies I’ve seen in a while, thanks to DVD.
Yeah, yeah, “nooks and crannies” this might be better …
Eric means no harm Mr. Waters. He’s on your side.
I didn’t ask you to be his psychologist
It’s about your friend
The movie is the black comedy, “In Bruges”.
And in Bruges, it’s set.
So, Yorkshire whose guess landed the next country over, would in fact get one point if this were horseshoes. But it’s not. So he doesn’t.
The plot centers on developments which take place as two hit men from England (one apparently Irish in origin) are sent to Bruges by their boss for reasons that are unclear to them. Are they there laying low after killing a priest back in England as part of their last job? Being rewarded with a touristy rest? Are they there, awaiting orders for a new job on the Continent?
The man they work for is the as yet unseen Harry Waters, a gangster boss, who despite his viciousness, is gradually revealed as having a kind of primitive honor-based moral code of his own, along with clear aspirations to bourgeois respectability.
We’ve seen that particular plot theme before of course: a ruthless mobster who attempts to live up to what few rules he does recognize.
In this movie it stands as a kind of intertwining but critical subplot, as the mobster in question, Harry Waters, is not the “focus on” protagonist, but rather constitutes for much of the film an off-screen presence of gradually increasing menace. He might make a classical antagonist if the true antagonist in this film were not of another kind entirely.
Remember your high school English classes? Man against man … man against nature, … and man against …
The gangster boss role of Harry Waters is particularly well inhabited by Ralph Fiennes, who when he does appear visually, imparts a personality and depth to the character (as do all the actors in this movie) which only adds to the emotional impact of events as they unfold. Despite yourself, you begin to care a bit about the fate of these characters.
Having watched the bonus tracks, this humanizing portrayal of people acting absurdly and even brutishly, was almost certainly intended by the director to produce just such an effect on the viewer. The actors in their “bonus material” interviews seemed to think so. And they repeatedly remark on what they perceive as the rare quality and sensibility of the script, when judged against other materials they’ve been offered.
This is not a film for everyone. As immune as I am to offhand vulgarity, this movie is notably filled to brimming with the kind of casually obscene blasphemy employed by morally lost characters, which can cause almost any listener to cringe.
The devout and sensitive might have a difficult time bracketing the verbal offenses as part of a necessary characterization process. The film makers themselves acknowledge the over-the-top nature of this aspect of the film, with an ironically intended bonus track of nothing but staccato cuts of verbal obscenity.
Speaking of bonus materials, because In Bruges was shot on location in Bruges, what you see on screen is for the most part where they really were, and what is actually there; the interior top of a certain bell tower, excepted.
There was apparently enough coverage of an early canal tourism scene for the director, or someone , to put together an oddly fascinating – almost mesmerizing – video trip along the canals for which the city is so famous.
The movie stars Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, and Ralph Fiennes, and features Thekla Reuten as the tourist hotel owner and manager. [It was Reuten's picture in another role that I linked to in Dana's, First Street Journal blog entry on women with guns. That image was taken from George Clooney's movie about an American hit man working in Europe.]
One of the more amusing exchanges in the movie occurs when a mot juste obsessed Russian gun dealer offers Harry Waters some hollow point rounds for his gun.
“Would you like some dumdums? You know this word ‘dumdums’? The bullets that make the head explode?”
Waters’ response is, “Well I know I shouldn’t, but … ” as if he is being offered some tempting chocolate covered cherries.
Picking out a few at first, he ends up taking the box.