Saturday, April 19, 2008

IN BRUGES - genre-busting, ball-busting, belly-laughing cinema

Writer-director Martin McDonagh has fashioned a paradoxical movie out of the conventional gangster flick. He makes a movie about two hit-men on the lam. But instead of putting them in a hard-bitten urban setting, he sticks them in a picturesque Medieval town in the backwaters of continental Europe. Instead of having ueber-cool, ueber-scary actors in the lead roles, he casts Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell - the first, a chubby, amiable old man and the latter acting like a petulant six-year old with about as much professional expertise as a muppet. He has a hard-as-nails gangster boss chase down the two hit-men and kick-off a deadly shoot-out. But he casts Ralph Fiennes, darling of posh-boy indie cinema roles, as the East End mob boss. And as for the final shoot-out: he spends as much time having the participants chat about the rules of engagement as he spends watching them shoot each other.

McDonagh's iconoclasm goes beyond casting decisions and subverting the rules of the genre. He has made a movie about hit-men and drug-dealers, and affects a deeply politically incorrect sense of humour. Then again, his movie has a deeply moral and sentimental core. What else is it but a story about self-less love and honour among thieves?

What does it all add up to? IN BRUGES is certainly well-written. It's tightly-structured, and incredibly, sharply funny. It's certainly a pleasure to see Colin Farrell back in form, even if Ralph Fiennes' performance feels like a rip-off of Ben Kingsley in SEXY BEAST. I just have this awful feeling that the movie is so clever, so knowing, so cine-referential that the final scenes lost some of their punch. After all, wasn’t all this talk of honour rather ridiculous? Should we care a fig about these characters at all?

IN BRUGES is already on release in the US, Ireland, Poland, Iceland, Greece and the UK. It opens in May in Israel, Germany, Russia and Norway. It opens in June in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. It opens in Finland in August.

1 comment:

  1. hey bina,i've got the Forgetting Sarah Marshall review up on my site.

    Have a good week:)