Hawking Up Hairballs

Monday, February 09, 2009

In Bruges

I watched the movie In Bruges last night. A lot of people really like it, but I thought the movie ill-conceived. It's about two British contract killers, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Ferrell). They've just completed a hit for the gangster Harry Waters (Ralph Fienes) and he's sent them to Bruges until the heat's off. That's the story they've been given anyway. As it turns out, while doing the hit, Ray accidentally shot and killed a young boy. This is unacceptable to Waters. You see, he has certain ethical standards, and he wants Ken to eliminate Ray. Without going into detail, Ken can't bring himself to kill Ray, so Waters comes to Bruges to do the job himself. At the end of the movie, Ken is dead, as is Waters. Ray is shot up, but he's going to live. Wracked by guilt over the death of the boy that he shot, Ray has sworn to turn his life around.

There's a lot that doesn't work in this film, and it starts with the two main characters. The middle-aged Ken, as Gleeson plays him, comes off as a kindly father figure. The best way I can think of to describe the way Ferrell plays Ray is to say that he's the boy who was the lovable class clown in school, but has grown up and been turned loose on the world. I just don't buy it. These guys are contract killers. Ray is all torn up by the boy he killed by accident, but he feels no guilt whatsoever about the priest who he hit. To me there's something reprehensible about portraying two such characters as likeable. The message is, yeah, they kill people for a living, but deep down inside, they're great guys. It would be one thing if they were thieves or something like that, but they're cold-blooded murderers.

It doesn't end there either. The climax is thoroughly implausible. Waters is chasing Ray with the intention of killing him. He brings him down with a few bullets, then walks over to finish him off. When he gets there, he sees a boy lying next to Ray, a boy that he has accidentally killed. Quite a coincidence, huh? Well, it gets even more ridiculous. Waters had earlier told Ken that if he ever killed a kid he would immediately commit suicide. So, while looking down at the boy's dead body, Waters says, "Principles, you see." He then puts his pistol in his mouth and blows his head off, thus sparing Ray. Give me a break. I'm all for suspending disbelief, but I'm not buying that, not even for a moment.

I would have liked to have seen more of the French actress, Clemence Poesy, who plays Ray's love interest. She's not a particular beauty, but she's attractive and sexy. I don't know what it is about French actresses. So many of them are sensual in the way that Americans can't seem to pull off. They just seem to be so comfortable in their sexuality. I personally think it's cultural. The French aren't burdened with a puritanical tradition. After all, it's the Americans, not the French, who got all bent out of shape when their when their president got a BJ.


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